CHICAGO — Luol Deng and the Chicago Bulls found a way to win, so this ugly NBA game looked just fine to them.
Deng scored 21 points and the Bulls overcame a rough shooting night to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 86-81 on Monday for their fifth straight victory.
“As I told our guys, it got choppy, particularly in the second quarter, and they do that to you. They’re very good defensively,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought in the second half we did a better job of getting the ball to the second side, which you have to do.”
Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 17 rebounds for Chicago, which is on its longest winning streak since taking eight in a row from Feb. 20-March 7, 2012. Jimmy Butler had 14 points and Derrick Rose finished with 12.
Deng’s 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds remaining gave the Bulls an 85-81 lead. Gerald Henderson then missed for the Bobcats, and Rose had a free throw to help Chicago wrap it up.
The Bulls went 26-for-31 at the free-throw line, compared with 8-for-16 for the Bobcats.
“We fought hard. Obviously, the difference in the game was the difference in free throws,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. “You come here and they’re a great team, they’re well prepared. You can’t get outscored by 18 at the free-throw line. That’s the game in a nutshell.”
Rose, who hit a career-high six 3-pointers in the Bulls’ 110-94 win Saturday over Indiana, went 4-for-13 from the field. The Bulls shot 27-of-75 (36 percent) overall.
“We’ll take it,” said Rose, who played 31 minutes in his second game back after missing Chicago’s win at Toronto on Friday with a sore right hamstring.
Butler missed part of the game with a right toe injury but came back with 6:35 left in the fourth.