Eighth in the Eastern Conference and a half-game behind Detroit when the day began, the Bulls led by as many as 16 in the second quarter and never trailed until Brook Lopez hit a short jump hook to make it 94-93 with 2:50 left in the game. But the Nets missed their final eight shots and took their sixth loss in seven games.
Brad Miller put Chicago (37-40) ahead for good, 95-94, with two free throws. After a steal by Derrick Rose, John Salmons hit 1 of 2 free throws following a flagrant foul by Devin Harris with just over a minute left. Gordon immediately buried a 3-pointer to make it 99-94, and the Bulls increased their lead over ninth-place Charlotte to 2½ games.
Lopez led the fading Nets (31-45) with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Anderson scored 17 and grabbed 10 boards, but it was a rough afternoon for Vince Carter. He was favoring his left leg and wound up with just four points on 2-for-10 shooting.
The Nets can now forget about leapfrogging the Bulls, who took three of four from them, but they still have a faint shot at the playoffs.
The Bulls, however, are in good shape.
Salmons was a bit shaky after missing a game with a strained left groin, hitting 7 of 16 shots, but the Bulls got solid contributions from Rose and the reserves.
The star rookie finished with 15 points, while Miller and Tim Thomas added 13 and 12, respectively, off the bench.
Even so, the Bulls had trouble putting this one away.
Jarvis Hayes and Chris Douglas-Roberts kept the Nets in it by combining for New Jersey's first 15 points in the quarter. The Nets forged their first tie - 88-88 - since the opening minutes on a dunk by Lopez and reverse layup by Anderson with 4:35 left. Lopez made things really interesting when he converted a three-point play and the hook shot to give the Nets their first lead, but they went cold after that.
Notes: Harris finished with 14 for New Jersey after scoring 42 in a win over Chicago in February. ... Hayes scored 14, hitting 4 of 7 3-pointers, and Douglas-Roberts added nine points. ... Four of Chicago's remaining five games are at home, and only one opponent - Philadelphia - has a winning record.
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