NBA: Deng leads Bulls in victory over Celtics

Luol Deng scored a season-high 26 points Thursday to lead Chicago to a 93-86 NBA victory over Boston as the Bulls bounced back from their first two-game skid of the season.

Deng, who is expected to lead Britain's basketball squad at this year's London Olympics, added six rebounds, three assists and four steals.

Joakim Noah had 17 points and nine rebounds and Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who erased a 13-point first-half deficit to hand the Celtics a second straight defeat.

The Bulls took control of the contest in the third quarter, when they out-scored Boston 29-17.

"We needed this one," said Deng, who scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter. "We haven't been playing well and we just played hard."

Paul Pierce scored 22 points, Brandon Bass added 15 points and Kevin Garnett chipped in 12 points and 14 rebounds for Boston, whose Atlantic Division lead dwindled to one game over Philadelphia -- who didn't play Thursday.

"We all did a good job just playing with energy in the second half," said Noah, who grabbed nine rebounds.

"We haven't been playing great basketball, but we played with great energy tonight," he added. "When we play inspired, we're usually a tough team to beat."

The victory was more good news for a playoff-bound Bulls team that could have NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose back from a groin injury on Sunday.

Rose missed his 12th straight game, but took part in the morning shoot-around and worked out before the contest.

"I'm dying to play, but we're being smart," Rose said. "I guess a couple of more days rest will be good for me."

When he does return, Rose vowed, "I'm not going to hold back at all.

"My game is to be aggressive and try to get people going."

Rose admitted to "a little bit" of concern that he could his groin again.

"But every day it's improving, the less I think about it," he said. "I'm running more, feeling better. I know it will be different if it's a game-type experience."

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