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updated: 3/13/2014 11:50 PM

Dunleavy, Bulls able to bounce back

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  • Wearing a bandage over his right eye after taking 10 stitches, Bulls guard Mike Dunleavy drives to the basket against Houston's Patrick Beverley in the second half Thursday night.

      Wearing a bandage over his right eye after taking 10 stitches, Bulls guard Mike Dunleavy drives to the basket against Houston's Patrick Beverley in the second half Thursday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

Heading into Thursday night's game at the United Center, Mike Dunleavy hadn't reached double-figure points in six games.

On the other side, Houston's James Harden had averaged 29.2 points in his previous 10 contests.

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When Dunleavy was knocked senseless by a collision in the second quarter and dripped blood on his way to the locker room, the NBA world seemed to turn upside down.

Dunleavy came back after halftime with 10 stitches above his right eye and scored 18 points in the third quarter alone. Meanwhile, the Bulls couldn't miss from 3-point range, limited to Harden to just 8 points, and rolled to a 111-87 victory over the Rockets.

Joakim Noah brought some reality to the situation by joking about Dunleavy's mishap in the locker room.

"I think it inspired the team," Noah said. "He had a huge knot on his head, looking like (boxer Evander) Holyfield, the white version. … It was good for Duke's street credibility."

Dunleavy received the gash above his eye by successfully taking a charge from Houston's Chandler Parsons. After returning to the court, Dunleavy took another charge from Harden just 1:29 into the third quarter. That one particularly impressed coach Tom Thibodeau.

"To me, when you talk about toughness, that's toughness," Thibodeau said.

Overall, this was another example of how the Bulls (36-29) specialize in bouncing back from tough losses. They were smoked by San Antonio on Tuesday but turned the tables against Houston and now have won 12 of their last 13 games after losses.

The Bulls led 50-42 at halftime, then opened the third quarter with a 20-2 run. At one point, the Bulls drained 3-pointer on four of five possessions, 2 each by Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich. When D.J. Augustin buried another 3-pointer, the Bulls were ahead 77-48 with 2:05 left in the third.

The Bulls hit a season-high 14 baskets from 3-point range in 24 attempts. Houston (44-21) leads the NBA in 3-point attempts but hit just 5 of 26 on Thursday.

Dunleavy finished with 21 points, Hinrich added 19, Carlos Boozer scored 10 of his 18 in the first quarter, and Noah nearly collected his third triple-double of the season, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.

Dunleavy didn't blame Parsons for the bloody injury and couldn't explain why he played so well after getting the stitches.

"Hard to say, to be honest with you," Dunleavy said. "It wasn't a malicious hit on Parsons' part. Just kind of sitting back here bored, getting stitched up. I wanted to play."

Dunleavy's 3-point accuracy was one of the biggest reasons the Bulls chose to sign him instead of Marco Belinelli or Nate Robinson. In the previous four games, he'd gone 1-for-14 from 3-point range.

"Knocked a little sense in me, I guess," he joked. "It was a pretty tough hit. My neck is sore, a little bit of whiplash-type stuff. We're a little concerned about that.

"Once I hit the ground and realized I was bleeding, you've got to go to the locker room and get stitched up at that point. No point hanging around the court and getting blood everywhere. I just knew once they got the stitches done, I was coming back."

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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