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(Wednesday, December 25th)
Final Score: Chicago 95, Brooklyn 78
Brooklyn, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Jimmy Butler scored 11 of his 15 points in a decisive third quarter that propelled the Chicago Bulls to a 95-78 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day.
Taj Gibson led six Bulls players in double figures with 20 points off the bench. Carlos Boozer had 14 points and both Mike Dunleavy and reserve D.J. Augustin contributed 13 points apiece for Chicago, which has won consecutive games for the first time since a season-best five-game run from Nov. 8-18.
"We kept fighting on defense and rebounding," Augustin said. "Once they missed a shot we got it and pushed it. When we didn't have an open shot in transition, we pulled it out and ran a play."
Deron Williams scored 18 points to pace the Nets, who have dropped four games in a row.
"When we don't put the ball in the basket or we miss shots that are makeable, it translates to our defense of transition, first where we give up a layup," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Then we miss another shot and it turns into another layup for the opposing team."
The Nets' offense was efficient early, as a Joe Johnson running bank shot made it 18-11.
Chicago then moved ahead with a 9-0 surge. Butler, back after sitting out the Bulls' last game with a right ankle injury, drained a 3-pointer to ignite the run.
The first quarter ended with Brooklyn holding a narrow 23-21 lead.
A 12-0 Chicago burst highlighted a second quarter during which Brooklyn shot 2-for-15 from the floor.
However, behind a late Williams-led charge, the Nets were able to whittle the Bulls' advantage down to 41-38 at halftime.
Aside from a brief hot stretch by Mirza Teletovic, the cold shooting continued for Brooklyn.
Teletovic powered the Nets to a 48-47 lead early in the second half, scoring 10 straight points for the home team. Teletovic was shut out the rest of the third quarter and no other Brooklyn player scored more than two points in a stanza that saw Chicago shoot 61.9 percent and seize firm control.
The Bulls went on another 12-0 run and later built a 21-point cushion in the waning moments of the third.
Guard Kirk Hinrich (back) returned to the Chicago lineup after a five-game absence, but the Bulls were without leading scorer Luol Deng for a third consecutive game because of a sore left Achilles ... The Bulls have now won eight of the last 10 regular-season games against the Nets ... Joakim Noah had 10 points and eight rebounds for Chicago ... Teletovic finished with 17 points ... Andray Blatche (1-of-11) posted seven points for the Nets, while Kevin Garnett (2-of-7) and Paul Pierce (1-of-8) both were limited to six points ... Brooklyn shot 35.2 percent for the game.
12/25 19:35:42 ET