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NBA -- Mirotic, Gasol star as Bulls nail playoffs berth


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO -- Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol provided the 1-2 punch that guaranteed the Chicago Bulls a playoffs spot.

Mirotic made 10 of 19 field goals for 28 points while Gasol sizzled with 27 and 12 boards to lead the Bulls to a 98-86 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night at the United Center.

After missing 11 games with a sprained elbow, Jimmy Butler returned to the starting lineup and helped Chicago's cause with 19 points and 9 rebounds in 40 minutes. Aaron Brooks added 13 and 10 assists for the Bulls, who shot 45.1 percent from the field.

"It was great to have him back," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was quoted by the Associated Press.

And while star point guard Derrick Rose remains sidelined following knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Thibodeau told reporters that Rose is "making good, steady progress."

The loss was a big blow for the Hornets, who dropped out of the playoffs picture at 30-39, a half-game behind the No.8-ranked 31-39 Boston Celtics.

Charlotte took a 49-48 halftime lead before surrendering the lead in the third quarter, where they got outscored 26-20. The Bulls then put the finishing touches in the final 12 minutes and held the Hornets to 17 fourth-quarter points.

Photo: The 1-2 punch of Nikola Mirotic (L) and Pau Gasol was too much to handle for the for the Charlotte Hornets, who lost the Chicago Bulls, 98-86, at the United Center.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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