Bulls hold Blazers to 35 percent shooting from field

CHICAGO (AP) -- With the playoffs in reach, Ben Gordon is hoping the Chicago Bulls can make a late push.

Gordon scored 23 points, and the Bulls used their best defensive effort of the season to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 95-66 on Tuesday night.

Kirk Hinrich added 14 points and seven assists. The Bulls won back-to-back games for the first time since beating Philadelphia on Feb. 16 and Milwaukee on Feb. 22 in their first game after the All-Star break.

The Bulls play at Milwaukee on Wednesday night and are 2½ games behind the Bucks and 76ers, who are tied for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls have not won three in a row since Jan. 21-28.

"We need to build some momentum; we have [won] two games in a row, we have to try to extend this thing to maybe three, four, five games," Gordon said. "Tomorrow is a very big game for us, especially playing in their gym.

"I think we can send a message. So we have to come out and be energized right from the beginning and definitely try to get that 'W.'"

Reserve Andres Nocioni scored 13 points for Chicago and Luol Deng had nine points and seven rebounds. The Bulls limited the Trail Blazers to 35 percent shooting.

Zach Randolph scored 25 points for Portland, which was unable to build on its victory over Phoenix on Sunday night and has lost five of six. The Blazers are 6-26 on the road.

"We just don't come committed to win road games," coach Nate McMillan said. "How can we play a team like Phoenix and look as good as we did the other night? Tonight we look like a team that never saw each other. Some of it is due to mental preparedness and being committed to each other."

Chicago led 46-37 at the half and broke open the game by outscoring Portland 14-2 to start the third quarter. The Blazers shot 1-of-10 and Gordon had eight points during that stretch for Chicago, including back-to-back 3-pointers.

"We just fell apart [in the second half]," Randolph said. "They got after us and we broke down defensively. We just couldn't hit any shots."

Malik Allen's follow gave Chicago a 60-39 lead with 5:19 left in the quarter. Jannero Pargo extended the Chicago lead to 67-44 on a 3-pointer.

"We have been playing very good defense for four to six weeks," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Our overall halfcourt defense has become very good. When we play defense like that we are usually pretty good."

Luke Schenscher made a layup to give Chicago an 89-53 lead with 6:20 left in the game and he later added another basket to make it 93-55. He finished with a career-high 10 points.

Hinrich scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half and Gordon added 10. Randolph had 16 in the half for the Blazers.

Portland trailed 15-6 to start the game, then Randolph scored 10 straight points for the Blazers to get them within 17-16. Randolph scored 12 points in the quarter.

Rookie Jarrett Jack made his first career start in place of Martell Webster. Jack scored four points in 19 minutes.

Game notes
Blazers guard Juan Dixon missed the game with a sprained left knee and C Theo Ratliff was out because he was sick. ... Chicago G Chris Duhon missed the game with a sore back. ...

Portland's worst loss of the season came at Denver in a 107-68 loss

in the second game of the season.