CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Bulls struggled for most of the night against the lowly New Orleans Pelicans.
Then the reserves took over.
Aaron Brooks scored 15 of his 17 in the fourth quarter, and Chicago rallied for a 98-94 victory over New Orleans on Saturday.
Pau Gasol had 18 points and Jimmy Butler added 15 points for the Bulls, who trailed for most of the game. Led by Brooks, Chicago’s reserves totaled 52 points.
“That second group’s movement, pace - that’s how we want to play,” coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans each scored 22 points for the 6-17 Pelicans, who led by as much as 14 points and fell to 1-11 on the road. Eric Gordon added 14.
“Somehow down the stretch in the games, that’s the only part we have to do better at,” Gordon said. “We do fine the first half, and we do fine in the third quarter sometimes. It’s just that fourth quarter when we have a lead or when we’re close, we have to be the team that takes over the game.”
Davis tied it at 94 with a three-point play with 1:48 remaining, and Brooks’ layup put the Bulls in front with 40 seconds to play.
Gordon missed a 3 before Derrick Rose nailed a 15-footer for a 98-94 lead with 11.5 seconds remaining. Evans missed a 3 before the buzzer.
Doug McDermott added 12 points for the Bulls. Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic each had 10.
“They were having fun out there,” Hoiberg said. “It was just such a grind-out, slow-motion-type of a game, and we finally got a little energy injected out there. They were moving. It was fun to watch. It’s fun to sit there and see it as opposed to going down and moseying into our offense.”
The Pelicans were outscored 34-24 in the final quarter and fell to 0-7 in the second part of back-to-back games.
“We really wore down the Pelicans,” McDermott said. “They played last night, so they were a little tired.”
Brooks and Kirk Hinrich hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 73-70 Bulls lead with 9:43 remaining - their first lead since 6-5. But the Pelicans retook the lead at 79-77 on Evans’ 3 with 7:32 left.
With the score tied at 89, Davis missed two free throws. Gordon made a layup for a brief Pelicans lead before Brooks hit a 3 to put Chicago back on top. Gasol’s jumper extended made it 94-91 with 2:05 left.
“My overall take on it is that if we compete at that level, we’ll be fine if we shore up the breakdowns that we had,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.
TALKING ABOUT THE WARRIORS
Gentry, a former associate head coach of Golden State, refrained from comparing the 24-1 Warriors to the 1996 Bulls (72-10).
“They’re completely different,” he said. “The league is kind of different now. I don’t understand why we just can’t accept greatness.”
Noah finished with a season-high 10 points. He also had nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Hoiberg highlighted when Noah dunked for a 75-71 lead.
“Jo made all the difference with his energy,” Hoiberg said. “During the play when he drove around Davis and dunked it, I thought he was going to run into the crowd and chest-bump people.”
Pelicans: F Ryan Anderson (stomach illness), G Jrue Holiday (lower right leg) and F/G Quincy Pondexter (left knee) sat out.
Bulls: Rose played without a face mask for the entire game for the first time this season. He ditched the mask in the second half of Thursday’s game against the Clippers after he was cleared to play without it earlier in the week. Rose fractured his left orbital bone on the first day of practice. “I’m just happy that it’s off. I don’t have to worry about it,” Rose said. . G/F Mike Dunleavy remains in “rehab mode,” Hoiberg said. Dunleavy is recovering from back surgery he underwent in September. Hoiberg said the Bulls are unable to set up a timetable for Dunleavy’s return until he performs on-court workouts.
Pelicans: At Portland on Monday.
Bulls: Host Philadelphia on Monday.
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