The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

January 8, 2014

Bulls win first game without Deng

CHICAGO — Stung by the Luol Deng trade, the Chicago Bulls found a way to ease their pain.

Taj Gibson had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Chicago beat the Phoenix Suns 92-87 on Tuesday night in its first game after parting with Deng.

Joakim Noah added 14 points and 16 rebounds, helping the Bulls to their sixth win in eight games. D.J. Augustin and Jimmy Butler each scored 13. Tony Snell added 12 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers during an 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter that extended the lead to 13.

Chicago sent Deng to Cleveland in a deal that was announced early Tuesday morning after the two-time All-Star recently turned down a proposed contract extension, a move that hurts in the short term but gives the Bulls flexibility to add to their roster down the road. It also could also help knock them into the lottery, although that’s far from a sure thing given the weak state of the Eastern Conference.

Either way, they weren’t conceding anything on Tuesday.

“We lost a really great teammate, a really great player last night/this morning,” Butler said. “I’m glad we got the win.”

Goran Dragic scored 21 for Phoenix, but the Suns simply couldn’t get into gear after winning 11 of their previous 14. Their 87 points were one off their season low, and they matched one with 12 assists.

Tops in the NBA in fast-break points, Phoenix managed just 10 against defensive-minded Chicago. The Suns played without guard Eric Bledsoe, who missed his third consecutive game with a sprained right knee, but the Bulls were hardly operating at full strength.

Besides dealing Deng, they were without Carlos Boozer. He missed his second straight game because of a sore right knee, leaving Chicago with just nine players available.

The Bulls were leading by five early in the fourth when Snell hit back-to-back 3s. Noah then scored on a layup to make it 78-65, and Chicago hung on after it got tight again late in the game.

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