Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Luol Deng had 21 points and hit a 3-pointer late that gave the Chicago Bulls some cushion in an 86-81 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bulls shot just 36 percent but made 26 of their 31 free-throw attempts to push their winning streak to five games and improve to 5-0 at home on the season.
"It got choppy, particularly in the second quarter," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "And they do that to you. They're very good defensively."
Jimmy Butler returned after leaving the game in the third quarter with a right toe injury and finished with 14 points for Chicago. Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer scored 12 points apiece, with Boozer grabbing 17 rebounds.
Jeff Taylor scored a career-high 20 points off the bench to lead the Bobcats and Gerald Henderson had 16. Charlotte, in the midst of playing four games in six days, has lost two in a row.
"We played them hard. We just didn't come up with the plays at the end of the game," Henderson said.
In their last game, the Bulls handed the Pacers their first loss of the season on Saturday. The continued their recent dominance of the Bobcats -- three wins in a row and eight of nine -- but needed key shots down the stretch.
The Bobcats twice cut it to a point in the last 1 1/2 minutes, first after Taylor and Henderson hit back-to-back treys and again when Henderson made two free throws with 51.3 seconds left.
Rose answered first with a left-handed drive through the lane for a layup and Deng knocked down his 3 from the high right side with the shot clock winding down, giving the Bulls an 85-81 cushion with 27.1 seconds left.
Charlotte missed its last two shots from the field.
"Sometimes you have to find different ways to win," said Thibodeau. "That was the one thing I did like. We showed the necessary toughness down the stretch to get the win."
Deng scored 11 of his 21 points in the first quarter and Butler added 10, including back-to-back triples to give the Bulls a seven-point lead.
Chicago had a 26-21 edge going into the second quarter and went up 10 on a Mike Dunleavy 3, but the Bobcats later closed the first half with a 17-4 run keyed by Taylor's six points off the bench to take a 44-40 halftime lead.
The Bulls started the third quarter with a 15-4 run to go up seven but the Bobcats pulled within 62-59 going into the fourth.
Bobcats center Al Jefferson missed his third straight game -- and eighth this season -- because of an ankle injury ... The Bulls have won five games in a row for the first time since taking eight straight from Feb. 20-March 7, 2012 ... The Bobcats finish their tough stretch at home Wednesday against Brooklyn.