for this game

Deng, Hughes break out as Bulls hold off Wizards

Dec 7, 2008 - 5:31 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- For most of the season, the Chicago Bulls have had to lean heavily on the backcourt duo of Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon. Any production from elsewhere has been a luxury rather than an expectation.

But that wasn't the case Saturday, as the Bulls got contributions from everywhere en route to a 117-110 victory over the Washington Wizards.

"It's a good win, but we are still a work in progress," Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Tonight, we moved the ball better than we have the last two games."

Chicago snapped its two-game winning streak, but perhaps more importantly finally saw signs of life out of some of its most disappointing players.

Luol Deng - who the club infamously refused to part with last summer when feeling out a potential trade for Kobe Bryant - has been mired in a slump for most of the season. But he broke out with his second strong performance in a row, pouring in 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting. He came into the game hitting just 41 percent of his field-goal attempts but has posted 46 points over his last two contests.

"I wasn't really less aggressive in the past, I was slowed down by some nagging injuries but now I am feeling better," Deng said. "Now I am taking the open shot when it is there."

Meanwhile, top reserves Larry Hughes and Andres Nocioni broke out as well. Hughes - who has battled injuries and inconsistency this year - collected 24 points and five assists, burying five 3-pointers to lead Chicago's bench.

"Larry Hughes was fantastic tonight the way he shot the ball," Del Negro said. "He has also been one of our better defenders. I am happy with how he played and what he contributed; his years in the league really showed."

Nocioni had not reached double figures since November 19 but chipped in with 16 points and connected three times from the arc. He was also the catalyst for arguably the game's most decisive sequence, sparking a surge late in the third quarter with a 3-pointer that set off a 19-4 run.

The 6-7 Argentinian added a layup moments later and capped off the run with another 3-pointer to extend the Bulls' lead to 88-72.

"They went small and we went small and that really worked out for us," Deng said. "The guys we had on the floor all stepped up and made their shots."

"We have to do a better job guarding the perimeter; we gave up a lot of threes tonight," Wizards guard DeShawn Stephenson said. "The third quarter has been our downfall the whole season and it's frustrating."

After falling behind by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter, the Wizards climbed back into it with a 13-3 run. Caron Butler sparked the surge with a 22-footer and Juan Dixon connected from the arc.

Darius Songaila capped the spurt with a 3-pointer to cut Washington's deficit to 105-100. But Hughes had the answer on the other end, burying from the arc to extend the Bulls' lead back to eight.

"Our game plan was to find the open man and share the ball," Hughes said. "That's a good plan, but you also have to make your shots. Sometimes even if you are open, you are not going to get the ball in the hole."

Rose registered 15 points and eight assists for the Bulls, while Gordon added 21 and seven.

"Sometimes you have to give the other guys the credit," Washington interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "The Bulls played well and we ran out of energy, the third quarter was really decisive."

Butler led the Wizards with 27 points, eight boards and six assists.

"This is a tough situation," Butler said. "I haven't been in this type of situation in any part of my career. It seemed like we gave a lot of energy and effort and we still can't get wins at the end of the game."