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Article updated: 12/25/2013 4:39 PM

Healthier Bulls win in their PJs, beating Brooklyn 95-78

By Mike McGraw

The Bulls and Brooklyn Nets played the NBA's first pajama game, featuring short-sleeve shirts with a giant logo on the front.

Some players completed the look with spiral-striped "elf" socks. Unfortunately, night caps were not part of the ensemble.

The uniforms looked ridiculous, but hey, maybe the Bulls should wear them every game. They dominated the second half on Wednesday afternoon and rolled past Brooklyn 95-78 at the Barclays Center.

Brooklyn native Taj Gibson led six players in double figures with 20 points. After partnering with Sky guard Epiphanny Prince for a toy drive on Tuesday, Gibson hit 9 of 15 shots, pulled in 8 rebounds and delivered one monster putback dunk, a one-hander in the fourth quarter.

"It was stressful," Gibson told reporters after the game. "I did a toy drive yesterday. I was just tired, man. Thibs told me this was going to happen, but I'm just happy to be back and represent my family and my neighborhood."

The Bulls (11-16) won consecutive games for the first time since Derrick Rose was playing. They won five in a row before leaving on the circus trip Nov. 21. Since that date, they've gone 5-13.

This game did feature a glimpse of what they could become this season. Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin shared the point guard position with success, and also played together briefly. Jimmy Butler was back in the lineup and provided a nice all-around boost. And there are plenty of bad Eastern Conference opponents like the Nets left to play.

Butler finished with 15 points, Carlos Boozer scored 14, while Augustin and Mike Dunleavy added 13 each. Joakim Noah contributed 10 points and 8 boards. Luol Deng did not play because of a sore left Achilles.

"It's good to get guys back," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Our starters were very solid and our bench guys did a great job. Taj was super."

Gibson scored 20 or more points for the fourth time this season. He hit 20 points five times in his first four seasons combined.

The Bulls made a run late in the third quarter by attacking the basket and getting out on the break. Trailing 50-49, Butler hit a 3-pointer to start the run.

Boozer scored a couple baskets in the post, Hinrich pushed the ball and found Dunleavy for a pair of fast-break buckets. Butler scored on a drive, then finished a fast break with a 3-point play to make it 66-52 with three minutes left in the third.

Tony Snell's floater with 20 seconds left in the quarter made it a 28-6 run and gave the Bulls a 21-point advantage.

Butler had missed 12 of the previous 17 games with a turf toe injury in his right foot, then a sprained right ankle. Late in the third quarter, Butler beat Reggie Evans to long rebound, was fouled at the basket and went down grabbing his right leg in pain.

Evans didn't do much on the foul besides reach out in desperation to stop the layup. Butler got back on his feet, hit both free throws, stayed in the game and returned in the fourth quarter, so he appeared to be OK.

"I'm good. I just think my knee gave out and it hurt for a second," Butler said, according to csnchicago.com. "I just feel like it's kind of unlucky for me the last few weeks."

This was also the first look at the Bulls' newest point guard pairing. Hinrich returned after missing five games with a sore back and started the contest. Augustin checked in late in the first quarter and brought a boost off the bench by pushing the pace. But then the half-court offense sputtered when Brooklyn stopped letting the Bulls run. Late in the second quarter, though, the Bulls produced a 12-0 run with Hinrich and Augustin playing together.

"I think just having a secondary ballhandler gives you the opportunity to run pick-and-roll on both sides of the floor," Thibodeau said. "I think the big thing is having shooters on the floor. When you have shooters it opens things up inside."

Brooklyn's bench combined to shoot 4 for 30 from the field. Andray Blatche hit 1 of 11 shots, while Paul Pierce went 1 for 8. Deron Williams led the Nets (9-19) with 18 points.

Follow Mike's Bulls reports on Twitter @McGrawDHBulls and check out his All Bull blog at dailyherald.com.

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