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NBA | Bulls defend lead this time to escape Pistons sweep

CHICAGO - The Chicago Bulls built another big lead, and the Detroit Pistons were rallying. Sound familiar? This time, there was no collapse.

CHICAGO - The Chicago Bulls built another big lead, and the Detroit Pistons were rallying. Sound familiar?

This time, there was no collapse.

Luol Deng scored 25 points, Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon added 19 apiece, and the Bulls hung on to beat Detroit, 102-87, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals yesterday afternoon and avoided a sweep.

"I don't care who it is, we are better than being swept in four games," Ben Wallace said. "We just have to come out and fight."

Unlike Game 3, when the Bulls saw a 19-point lead dissolve into a seven-point loss, Chicago withstood a late push by Detroit. The Bulls outscored the Pistons by 27-13 in the third quarter to turn a seven-point halftime lead into a 77-56 advantage going into the fourth.

They didn't flinch when Chauncey Billups hit two free throws with 3 minutes, 55 seconds left to cut it to 87-80, or when he answered Gordon's three-pointer with one of his own. That made it 90-83 with 2:46 left, but the Bulls hung on against a Pistons team that had won 12 of 13 close-out games.

"I think the feeling was we knew the run was coming," Hinrich said. "You feel like the shift in momentum. We just needed to take a deep breath and just keep what we were doing to get there - moving the ball, keeping an up-tempo game, and getting stops."

The Bulls still have a long way to go to join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, and 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only major pro teams to win a best-of-seven series after falling behind three games to none.

The Pistons will try to wrap this one up tomorrow at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where they blew out Chicago in Games 1 and 2 after sweeping Orlando in the first round.

Deng was 10 of 15 after shooting 38 percent in the first three games and grabbed 13 rebounds.

"I just had good looks," Deng said. "You make your first couple shots, and your confidence goes up."

Although he committed five turnovers, Hinrich added 10 assists and took a charge on Billups after Billups hit those free throws to pull within seven. Wallace delivered a vintage performance against his former team, grabbing 17 rebounds, and the Bulls held a 51-33 edge on the glass.

Jazz 115, Warriors 101

OAKLAND, Calif. - Utah had seen enough of Golden State's beautiful game.

Carlos Boozer and the Jazz shoved and scraped to slow down the Warriors - and then Derek Fisher put a sweet finish on a victory that put Utah on the brink of the Western Conference finals.

Boozer had 34 points and 12 rebounds as the Jazz handed the eighth-seeded Warriors their first home loss of the postseason, to put Utah up three games to one in their second-round playoff series.

Fisher scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the surprising Jazz, who can clinch their first trip to the conference finals since 1998 with a victory at home in Game 5 tomorrow night.