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Old 03-06-2016, 12:01 AM   #1
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Gasol, Butler lead Bulls over Rockets, 108-100

Pau Gasol finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds, Jimmy Butler scored 24 points in his return from a strained left knee, and the Chicago Bulls snapped a four-game losing streak with a 108-100 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Gasol hit four free throws after Patrick Beverley nailed a 3-pointer to cut it to 104-100 with 34.8 seconds remaining. And Chicago avoided matching its longest skid even though James Harden scored 36 for Houston. The Bulls also moved a half-game ahead of Detroit for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Gasol delivered his 35th double-double and Butler added 11 rebounds after missing the previous 11 games.

An aggressive Derrick Rose contributed 17 points and nine assists. Mike Dunleavy Jr. scored 12 and the Bulls picked up the win even though they committed 26 turnovers.

While Harden went off in a big way, he was about the only one clicking for the Rockets.

Dwight Howard was non-factor down low with eight points and 12 rebounds, and Houston once again struggled in a big way from the outside.

The Rockets were just 9 for 35 on 3-pointers with Chicago basically daring them to shoot. And that came on the heels of a 3-for-35 meltdown that ranked among the worst performances in NBA history during Wednesday's win over New Orleans.

The late push by Houston aside, Chicago simply had a different energy after sluggish losses at Miami and Orlando.

They were just about at full strength with Butler playing for the first time since Feb. 5, Taj Gibson (hamstring) and Nikola Mirotic (appendectomy) returning from a 16-game absence.

Butler got a loud ovation during pregame introductions and gave fans plenty to cheer in the first half, scoring 14. Gasol added points and 10 rebounds, and Rose pushed the tempo to help Chicago grab a 55-43 lead.

A 3 by Dunleavy and a turnaround hook shot by Butler made it 68-53 just over four minutes into the third quarter. And with the lead at eight going into the fourth, Mirotic hit two 3s with Rose burying one of his own in between to bump the lead 92-75 with 9:59 remaining.

It was 100-82 with just over five minutes left before Houston ralllied. A four-point play by Harden and a free throw by Corey Brewer made it 104-97, and a 3 by Beverley cut the lead to four with 34.8 seconds left.


Rockets: F Michael Beasley played 4:16 after signing with Houston on Friday. The second overall pick in the 2008 draft, he spent this season in the Chinese Basketball Association and had not played in an NBA game since last year with Miami. "We're not going to throw him right into the fire so he has a chance to succeed," coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.

Bulls: F Cameron Bairstow sat out because of a back injury.


Rockets: At Toronto on Sunday.

Bulls: Host Milwaukee on Monday.

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