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Hornets dominate third quarter, down Bulls

Mar 14, 2015 - 3:02 AM Charlotte, NC ( - Gerald Henderson scored 20 points and was part of a huge third-quarter run that propelled the Charlotte Hornets to a 101-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Hornets overcame a 60-52 halftime deficit by outscoring Chicago by a 23-5 margin to begin the third quarter, a period in which the injury-plagued Bulls went a woeful 3-of-17 from the field and turned it over seven times en route to a fourth loss in five games.

"Our defense in the third quarter was obviously terrific," Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said.

Mo Williams chipped in 18 points and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 13 with seven rebounds for a Charlotte team that won for a sixth time in its last eight despite center Al Jefferson sitting out Friday's matchup with a sprained right knee.

Bismack Biyombo posted a double-double starting in Jefferson's place, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds to help vault the Hornets in front of Miami in the race for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed.

Aaron Brooks paced the Bulls, still without Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson due to injuries, with 24 points. Pau Gasol added 18 and Tony Snell hit 5-of-9 attempts from 3-point range in a 17-point effort.

"Everyone is dealing with injuries. Everyone is dealing with playoff positioning. It's going to come down to how badly you want something," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterward. "Every game you're playing for something. For some teams, you're playing to get in. For some teams, it's the seeding. If your house is not in order now, you're in trouble."

An 18-2 sequence midway through the third put Charlotte ahead for good. Williams started the surge with a 3-pointer and buried a midrange jumper shortly afterward that gave the Hornets a 65-63 lead, which swelled to double digits just over four minutes later when two Kidd-Gilchrist buckets and a Kemba Walker jumper had the Bulls in a 75-65 hole with 2:49 left in the period.

Snell's fifth triple of the night brought Chicago within 77-70 entering the fourth, and the deficit was cut to six when Doug McDermott drained a trey 30 seconds into the final frame to make the score 79-73.

The Bulls didn't make another basket over the next five minutes, however, as Charlotte went on a 16-4 run to increase the lead to 95-77 with 7:24 left.

Chicago did make it interesting down the stretch, though, with Brooks, Nikola Mirotic and Gasol leading a 14-2 push that pulled the Bulls within 97-91 on Mirotic's layup out of timeout with 45.3 seconds remaining. However, four free throws between Kidd-Gilchrist and Henderson in the waning moments sealed the outcome.

In contrast to their dreadful third quarter, the Bulls could hardly miss in the first. They shot 70 percent from the floor and had a scorching 7-of-8 makes from beyond the arc in building a 35-19 lead, with Brooks leading the charge with 12 points. A triple by McDermott to open the second extended the differential to 19 points.

"It was frustration -- they made nine of their first 10 threes, I believe," Clifford stated. "You know what, we stayed with the game and we fought hard."

Chicago's offense went cold from there, allowing the Hornets to battle back and trim the lead to 51-47 with 3:15 to go in the first half. However, a Snell 3-pointer and Brooks' layup and free throw with 23.8 seconds left helped send the Bulls into the break up 60-52.

Game Notes

Bulls center Joakim Noah returned to action after missing Wednesday's game against Philadelphia with a sore left knee, but managed just one point in 24 minutes ... McDermott netted 13 points while making 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc, and Chicago ended 15-of-32 as a team on 3-point tries ... The Hornets were 28-of-33 from the foul line, compared to a 14-of-19 mark for Chicago ... The Bulls had won in six of their last seven visits to Time Warner Cable Arena.