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Bulls outscore Rockets 23-3 in final six minutes to pull out dramatic win

CHICAGO -- Ron Artest was hitting from all angles, Yao Ming was scoring inside and the Chicago Bulls were staring at a 17-point deficit with little time remaining.

Ben Gordon knew it didn't look good. So he and Derrick Rose painted a different picture.

Rose scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, and the Chicago Bulls rallied to beat the Houston Rockets 105-102 on Saturday night.

Trailing 99-82 with just under six minutes left, the Bulls outscored the Rockets 23-3 the rest of the way to pull out a dramatic win in their first home game since the deaths of franchise icons Norm Van Lier and Johnny "Red" Kerr.

Rose and Ben Gordon (16 points) each scored 11 during that stretch. John Salmons hit a free throw with 11.1 seconds remaining to make it 105-102, then blocked Artest's off-balance 3-pointer just before the buzzer to preserve the win and break the Rockets' season-high six-game win streak.

"We kind of caught them by surprise," Gordon said. "We just pounced on them and took control of the game."

It was a stunning, swift turn, with a dose of controversy sprinkled in.

Artest, who scored a season-best 32 points, argued vehemently for a foul after the final shot and had to be escorted away by Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo.

"They fouled me, but that's all right," he said. "That's not why we lost. It was a foul. That was a bad non-call. Everybody makes mistakes. That was a big mistake."

It was a bitter end to an otherwise outstanding performance in which Artest set a career-high by hitting 6 of 12 3-pointers.

Yao added 17 points, Luis Scola scored 16 while grabbing 11 rebounds, but the Rockets let what looked like their first road win in more than a month slip away.

For that, Artest pointed the finger at himself.

"I take the blame for the loss," he said. "I could have helped us sustain the lead we had."

Coach Rick Adelman said his team became "very, very non-aggressive" over the closing minutes -- a sharp contrast to the way Gordon and Rose performed.

Gordon's jumper tied it at 102 with just over a minute left, and Rose gave the Bulls a 104-102 lead when he scored in the lane with 32 seconds remaining.

"In Minnesota and some other places, I always missed the shot, but I finally hit one," Rose said

Artest then missed two 3-pointers from the left side before Salmons grabbed the rebound and hit the first of two 3s. Yao rebounded the second attempt, giving the Rockets a chance to tie, but they nearly turned the ball over out of a timeout before Salmons blocked Artest's 3.

Besides the late sparks from Rose, Gordon and Salmons, the Bulls got 19 points and nine rebounds from Tyrus Thomas.

The Rockets were coming off a 6-0 homestand, but they continue to struggle on the road, with four straight losses. They have not won on an opponent's court since beating Detroit on Jan. 25.

The news wasn't all good for the Bulls, either. X-rays taken on Luol Deng after he left the game revealed a likely stress fracture in his right tibia, and he could miss the rest of the season. The leg had been bothering him for several weeks, and Deng thought it was just a sprain.

Now, it looks like something more serious.

"I had a play in the first half, where I jumped up and I felt it," said Deng, who's scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

Game notes
Rockets coach Rick Adelman, who played with Van Lier in Chicago, remembered him as "a terrific competitor and Johnny's been here forever. I can't remember when he wasn't here. It's unfortunate and a shame that had to happen. It was the same day you lost two people who were so important to the organization." ... There will be funerals in Chicago for Van Lier on Monday and for Kerr in suburban Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., on Thursday. ... Bulls F Tim Thomas hyperextended his left knee in the first half and played just seven minutes. ... The Rockets waived little-used shooting guard Luther Head before the game. A Chicago product, he appeared in only 22 games this season and has been out since Jan. 10 with a right foot injury.