Bulls entangle Nets

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NEWARK, March 18- Derrick Rose scored 21 points and Britain's Luol Deng added 19 to spark the Chicago Bulls over New Jersey 84-73 on Thursday, putting the Bulls on top of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

The Bulls stretched their win streak to six games, their longest triumphant run in six seasons, while the Nets saw a five-game win streak, their longest in five years, come to an end in what was their lowest-scoring game of the season.

"We’ve got a great team," Deng said. "We’ve got guys who come off the bench and do a good job of carrying us. We just have to keep on playing. We know we still have a long way to go."

Chicago improved to 49-18, breaking their tie with Boston for the top mark in the East in the fight for a home-court edge in the playoffs.

"We just want to take it step by step," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

"If we do the right things every day, the results will take care of themselves."

New Jersey fell to 22-44, six games behind Indiana for the last playoff spot in the East.

Kyle Korver added 12 points while rookie Omer Asik added 11 points and 16 rebounds for the Bulls, who led 43-36 at half-time and 60-50 after three quarters before the Nets pulled even three times in the fourth quarter, the last on two Korver free throws with 4:06 to play.

Deng and Rose answered with baskets and the Nets never pulled even again. Deng scored 10 points in the first half while Rose had eight of his in the third quarter and Korver scored seven of his in the fourth quarter.

The Nets as a team shot only 35 percent from the field (29-of-83) and connected on only 3-of-19 3-point attempts against the NBA’s second-ranked defensive unit.

"That’s what we’ve been doing the whole year, playing defense," Rose said. "If our offense isn’t going, and that rarely happens, we rely on our defense.

"At first, they were getting everything they wanted. Then we just closed down the paint and rebounded the ball."

Brook Lopez led the Nets with 22 points while Sasha Vujacic and Kris Humphries each scored 13 points. Humphries added 16 rebounds while Deron Williams passed around 11 assists but shot only 1-of-12 for just five points.

"We could have played a lot better and shot a lot better, but they are a good defensive team," Williams said. "That’s what they pride themselves on."

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