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Gordon leads Bulls over Blazers down the stretch

Feb 4, 2007 - 7:27 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Ben Gordon and the Chicago Bulls finally got out of the Rose Garden alive.

Gordon scored 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and Kirk Hinrich added 17 and five assists as the Bulls used a barrage of free throws down the stretch to post an 88-86 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Chris Duhon scored 15 points and Ben Wallace grabbed 12 rebounds for Chicago, which had lost six of its last seven visits here. Wallace missed Wednesday's setback to the Los Angeles Clippers with a bruised right knee and did not play well in Friday's win at Seattle.

"This was very similar to the Seattle game (Friday) where we have two halves," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Portland maybe could have been ahead of us quite a bit early in the game the way we were turning the ball over. But our defense was so solid. I was actually very proud of our energy defensively. Eventually, we got control of the game."

The Bulls last won here in the 2004-05 season, when Gordon was just a 21-year-old rookie. On Saturday, he carried Chicago in the final period, attacking the basket and breaking down the defense.

"It's just tough to get a win at home in this league so any win on the road is one we will take," Gordon said. "It's good for us because our last West Coast trip wasn't good. This is a good way to start it off, winning two of three. We know just got to try and keep on playing well."

Gordon shot 11-of-22 from the field - including 3-of-5 from the arc - and 8-of-9 from the line for the Bulls, who picked up their second road triumph in as many nights against a Western Conference opponent.

"I wanted to come out and be aggressive," Gordon said. "I hit a couple of threes and got open early. I wanted to shoot the ball in rhythm and I felt I had a good rhythm going and guys did a great job of finding me."

Chicago had gone over two months without beating a West team away from home, dating to an 111-108 victory over New Orleans on December 1.

With the game tied, 82-82, the Bulls made six free throws in the final 33 seconds to secure the victory. Chicago nailed its last 12 free throws overall and won despite sinking its last basket with 6:24 remaining.

"In a game that is this tight, if we miss one of those (free throws), it can change things a lot," Skiles said. "I mean, are they down one? are they down two? (in the final seconds). It can make or change everything. You got to be able to step up there and make them and they did."

"(The free throws) were big. We did a good job of converting them," Gordon said. "Guys stepped up. Their home crowd was doing a good job of trying to distract us, but we made of the majority of them."

Zach Randolph had 27 points and nine rebounds for Portland, which shot 42 percent (33-of-78).

"I think that we kind of gave this game away with some stupid moves," Randolph said. "But we fought hard. We fought hard and came back from a big deficit. We got to put it together for four quarters and play smart basketball and not give them so many free throws when the game is tied and quit with the turnovers."

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