Hot-shooting Hinrich lifts short-handed Bulls past Pacers

CHICAGO (AP) -- Kirk Hinrich surveyed the scene and made the call. This was his night to attack, to carry his team, and he delivered in a big way.

Hinrich scored a career-high 38 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 108-95 on Wednesday night even though their two best players were injured.

"I don't know what to say," Hinrich said. "I felt a responsibility to do that tonight. We just needed a win. There was definitely some desperation for this team."

The Bulls learned earlier in the day that forward Luol Deng would miss one to three weeks because of his recurring left Achilles' tendinitis. Then, they found out that leading scorer Ben Gordon would sit out with a sprained right wrist.

Even so, they had more than enough to beat the Pacers.

Hinrich, who hit 14 of 21 shots, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and left to a loud ovation with 40 seconds left.

"You know, he took 21 shots; that might be the most he's ever taken in a game," Pacers guard Travis Diener said. "He could have taken 50, the way he was shooting it. I just thought he was more aggressive. He's a great player."

He had help, though.

Andres Nocioni added 24 points, including six during a 17-0 run in the second quarter that snapped a 29-all tie and put the Bulls ahead for good.

Rookie Joakim Noah added 14 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, and Thabo Sefolosha scored 14 points.

Danny Granger did all he could to keep Indiana in the game, scoring a career-high 33 points.

"My teammates were finding me and I was knocking them down, but I'd trade it all for a win," he said.

The Pacers had whittled the lead to 79-77 on a basket by Shawne Williams and two free throws by Mike Dunleavy (10 points) 1:16 into the fourth. But the Bulls went on a 16-6 run that increased their lead to 95-83 with 5:19 left in the game.

Hinrich scored six points during that stretch and delivered a behind-the-back pass in transition to Noah for a dunk that drew a roar from the crowd.

"We got a good win today, but at the same time, we can't get too happy," said Noah, who played the entire fourth quarter. "Right now, we're a team that's trying to get into the playoffs. We want to be there. And in order to do that, we have to be consistent."

They moved within a game of Indiana and idle New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after absorbing two big blows before tipoff.

Gordon hurt his wrist during a 104-90 loss at Memphis on Monday and was unable to play against the Pacers. Deng's condition has been bothering him for about a month, and he does not want to rush back.

"We're going to try to be smart about it," he said before the game. "I don't want to come back and have to sit down again. Even if I feel good after one week, I'm really going to try to test it and see how good it feels before I start going again."

Deng, second on the team at 17.9 points per game, missed three games before returning Jan. 13 at Atlanta. The problem flared up again during the fourth quarter against Golden State on Friday, and he sat out the following night against Detroit. He played 26 minutes at Memphis but sat out the fourth quarter because of the pain and the lopsided score.

The Bulls did just fine without Deng and Gordon, outscoring Indiana by 11 in the second quarter while building a 57-43 halftime lead and pulling away in the fourth.

"I had to make plays tonight, without [Gordon] and [Deng]," Hinrich said. "Those guys do a lot of stuff for us, attack for us on offense. I'm confident I can make plays."

Game notes
Hinrich had scored 34 twice in his career. ... The Bulls were also without G Chris Duhon, who is out indefinitely with a sprained left knee. ... The Pacers were without injured forwards Troy Murphy and Jermaine O'Neal. Murphy left Monday's game at Philadelphia with a sore left knee. O'Neal missed his third game with a bruised left knee that is expected to keep him out at least two weeks. ... Diener, bothered lately by a sprained right foot, scored 10 points. ... Center David Harrison finished with three points and two rebounds in 9:37 after serving a five-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug program.