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Hawks rally falls short

POSTED: April 6, 2008 5:01 a.m.

CHICAGO Drew Gooden scored a season-high 31 points and matched a season best with 16 rebounds Tuesday night as the Chicago Bulls held on in the fourth quarter for a 103-94 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.The Bulls, one of several teams chasing the Hawks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, led by 12 after three quarters before Atlanta rallied within two with just more than six minutes left.

Ben Gordon’s 3-pointer with 1:27 to go gave the Bulls a 97-90 lead, and he added two free throws with 28 seconds left. Gordon finished with 16 points.

Josh Childress scored 22, including eight in the final quarter, to lead Atlanta. Mike Bibby added 18.

The Bulls took a 79-67 lead after three quarters, going on a 20-4 run that included two highlight-film plays from Joakim Noah. He went high to drop in a shot on a pass from Larry Hughes, and seconds later made a steal and took a pass from Kirk Hinrich for an emphatic dunk as the Bulls took a 10-point lead.

Hinrich’s 3-pointer, a basket by Luol Deng and a three-point play from Gooden capped the 20-4 spurt that put Chicago up 75-59.

But the Bulls, who’d lost four of their previous five, including three after leading in the fourth quarter, came out slow in the final period again.

Childress had three baskets to get the Hawks started. Joe Johnson’s three-point play and basket and a jumper by Marvin Williams cut the lead to 83-80.

Bibby’s 3-pointer brought the Hawks to within two before Noah drove for a three-point play. Atlanta was still down only three before Gooden took a pass from Deng after an offensive rebound for a layup that made it 94-89 with three minutes to go.

Gooden hit his first five shots and finished the first quarter with 16 points. He had 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting and 10 rebounds by the half as Chicago took a one-point lead. Bibby and Josh Smith had 13 each for the Hawks in the first half.Notes: Chicago’s Andres Nocioni, sent to the locker room in the second quarter of Saturday night’s game for yelling at interim coach Jim Boylan after he was taken out of the game, played 13 scoreless minutes. ... The game featured ex-Florida teammates Noah and Al Horford of the Hawks. The duo led the Gators to back-to-back NCAA titles. Noah finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Horford had 13 rebounds and three points.



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