for this game

Hinrich's 27 points help Bulls topple Timberwolves

Jan 30, 2008 - 5:10 AM By Rory Spears PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Kirk Hinrich and the shorthanded Chicago Bulls made the most of their depleted lineup.

Hinrich scored 27 points and handed out six assists as the Bulls posted a 96-85 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

Andres Nocioni scored 18 points and rookie Joakim Noah - in his first start of the season - had 10 and 13 rebounds for Chicago, which avoided losing three straight at home since January, 2006.

"We were shorthanded tonight, but we got a great effort out of other people," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "Ben Wallace's defense on Al Jefferson was fantastic, especially in the second half."

The Bulls won despite missing guards Ben Gordon (wrist) and Chris Duhon (knee) and forwards Luol Deng (Achilles tendinitis) and Joe Smith (flu).

"I am trying to take advantage of this opportunity while we are missing so many players," Noah said. "I know I have to shoot better percentages, and continue to improve."

Chicago, which plays a home-and-home series against the Timberwolves and will meet them in Minnesota on Wednesday, broke open the game late in the third quarter.

After Rashad McCants tied the score at 55-55 with 4:35 left in the third, the Bulls went on a 16-7 run to end the quarter behind Hinrich's eight points.

"I have been more aggressive shooting the ball," Hinrich said. "Luckily, I am making shots right now, I am trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get."

Chicago also was helped by Jefferson, who had just 20 points after a 40-point burst in a win over New Jersey on Sunday.

"After the first quarter, they made me take the ball outside," Jefferson said. "Ben Wallace played me tough, all we can do is go after them (Wednesday)."

The NBA's Western Conference Player of the Week, Jefferson, who had averaged 28.8 points and 12.7 boards over his last four contests, had just 15 until there was less than four minutes left in the fourth.

"I just tried to limit (Jefferson's) touches," Wallace said. "You can't score if you don't get the ball."

The Bulls also trailed in the the second period when the Timberwolves went on a 7-0 run to take a 33-27 lead with 7:09 left in the quarter. However, Chicago answered with a 16-4 run to end the half as Hinrich had six points in the spurt.

The Bulls, who led by six points at intermission, shot 42.5 percent (34-of-80).

McCants scored 16 points and Jefferson, who also had 12 rebounds, collected his 33rd double-double for Minnesota, which shot 44 percent (31-of-74).

"The key to this loss was the way we started the game," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "It was like we were running in mud, we were up against the shot clock the entire half."

Randy Foye, playing in his first game of the season, netted 11 off the bench for the Timberwolves, who failed to win their third straight vs. the Bulls.

"I had been through a lot of conditioning leading up to this game," Foye said. "I still felt like I was a step behind. It will take me a while to get up to (game) speed."

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