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Deng leads Bulls past Pacers, 109-101

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A dominant fourth quarter helped the Chicago Bulls in their quest to build momentum heading into the All-Star break.

Luol Deng had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 109-101 on Tuesday night. Chicago outscored Indiana 28-15 in the final 12 minutes.

"We battled back and made a couple of adjustments," Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said. "They missed some shots, of course. Our energy and effort in the fourth quarter was good."

The Pacers shot 33 percent in the fourth quarter of their final game before the break.

"I thought we had great looks in the fourth quarter, but couldn't knock them down," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said.

It was Chicago's second consecutive win after three straight losses. The Bulls (25-25) will play Orlando on Wednesday with a chance to move above .500.

Derrick Rose and John Salmons each scored 21 points for the Bulls. Kirk Hinrich scored 17 points, and Brad Miller added 13 for Chicago.

Danny Granger had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Troy Murphy had 18 points and 16 rebounds and Earl Watson added 14 points and six assists for the Pacers.

Chicago shot 51 percent from the field. Salmons, a reserve, did his part by shooting 7-for-10.

"I felt pretty good tonight," he said. "I wanted to attack the rim as much as possible. I feel that by doing that, I can take a lot of pressure off Derrick Rose so he doesn't have to make all the plays for us. He's been doing a great job of that for us lately."

The Bulls hung tough on the boards without center Joakim Noah. The league's No. 3 rebounder with 12 per game was not with the team because of a left foot injury. Miller, a former Pacer, started in his place.

Indiana shot just 33 percent in the fourth quarter and blew a five-point lead. Watson said the Pacers started struggling when the pace slowed.

"We stopped playing our game, and they forced us into playing their game, and that's when we got in trouble," Watson said. "This is not the way we wanted to go into the break."

Chicago trailed the entire second half until a 3-point play by Rose, then a two-handed jam by Taj Gibson tied the score at 92 with 7 minutes to go. Rose closed out the 9-0 run with a long jumper from the top of the key that gave the Bulls a 96-92 lead.

A dunk by Deng with 1:56 to play extended Chicago's lead to 103-97, and the Bulls led by at least five points the rest of the way.

Rose was a step ahead of the Pacers all night.

"Rose in the open court was the difference in the basketball game," O'Brien said. "He attacks like a running back. There is no point guard in the league that can guard him one on one."

Watson drained a 40-foot shot as time expired on the shot clock 2.6 seconds before halftime. The bucket gave the Pacers a 60-57 lead at the break.

A 3-pointer by Granger gave the Pacers a 69-63 lead early in the third quarter, and a 3 by Brandon Rush increased the lead to 73-63.

The Bulls recovered quickly. A runner by Rose cut Indiana's lead to 77-75 late in the quarter, but the Pacers hung on to lead 86-81 at the end of the period.

Defense, and poor shooting by the Pacers, won it for the Bulls at the end.

"We were able to string some stops together, and we did a good job of moving the ball down the stretch," Hinrich said. "Guys just started making simple plays, and it seemed like things started going our way when we got some stops."

Murphy said the timing of the All-Star Game couldn't be better for Indiana, which has an 18-34 record.

"We need the break, and hopefully, everybody will come back with a positive attitude and ready to go," he said.

Notes: Army PFC Alex Hughes proposed to Lindsey Smith on the court between the first and second quarters. ... Pacers C Jeff Foster will have season-ending back surgery after the All-Star break. ... Pacers F Tyler Hansbrough sat out again with an inner ear infection, but O'Brien was hopeful he would return soon after the All-Star break. ... Gibson committed his second foul with 9:42 left in the first quarter.

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