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Bulls defeat Raptors for 14th straight time

Dec 9, 2006 - 4:16 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni provided the spark to keep the Chicago Bulls in their recent groove.

Deng scored 25 points and Nocioni added 17 with a season-high 14 rebounds as the Bulls held on for their seventh consecutive victory, a 93-90 triumph over the Toronto Raptors.

Although the Bulls' streak of 100-point games ended at eight, they defeated the Raptors for the 14th straight time since December 6, 2002 and raised their home record to 7-1.

"It's probably a coincidence," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "I'd like to give some profound reason why this has happened. We were lucky tonight to continue the win streak. The guys came up with some big plays in the fourth quarter to bail us out."

"They have had our number for three years now," Raptors forward Morris Peterson said. "At least we play them three more times this season. Hopefully, we will end the streak during one of those games."

After scoring 14 points against the Philadelphia on Wednesday, Nocioni nearly matched that in the third quarter. He made 6-of-7 shots, collecting 13 points and six rebounds.

Nocioni hit 3-pointer early in the period and added two jumpers and a layup in the final 3:09 to give the Bulls a 72-68 lead.

"They have a really good team this year," Nocioni said. "They played us much better tonight. We have played some close games with them the last few years and we have been fortunate to win them all."

Chicago's Kirk Hinrich sank a jumper early in the fourth quarter and hit three consecutive baskets moments later, including a 3-pointer from the left corner with 7:15 remaining that widened the margin to 83-74.

Chris Bosh made a layup and Anthony Parker sank a shot from the arc with 1:14 to play, pulling Toronto within 89-88. Ben Gordon answered with a jumper 10 seconds later.

After Peterson's layup with 18 seconds to go, Chicago's Chris Duhon made two free throws. Peterson and T.J. Ford missed potential tying 3-pointers on Toronto's final possession.

"I tried to get the best look I could," Peterson said. "The shot didn't go down. I was hoping it would but it just went wide."

Hinrich scored 13 points and Ben Wallace collected 11 rebounds and five blocks for Chicago, which totaled 12 blocked shots.

After opening the season with nine losses in 12 contests, the Bulls have matched last season's 19-game mark (10-9), and have won all seven home encounters against Eastern Conference opponents.

"It does feel a little different," Gordon said. "We are on a seven-game winning streak and we are playing real well at home. We hope we can keep that momentum going so our record at the end of this season is better than last year."

Rookie Jorge Garbajosa scored 17 points, Bosh added 13 and Ford and Rasho Nesterovic 12 each for the Raptors, who have dropped 10 of 12 road games.

"We missed some shots, but we had an opportunity to win the game," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "We made some bad decisions on defense. There were certain things we should not have done. We did them at the wrong time."

"I really don't care about (the streak)," Bosh said. "I am just concerned about winning basketball games right now. We are starting to play better and we need to."

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