CHICAGO – Luol Deng scored 23 points and tied a season-high with 12 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls won for the 12th time in 13 games, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 94-89 on Tuesday.

Ben Gordon hit two free throws to close out the win with 10.9 seconds left, after Smush Parker cut the Bulls’ lead to three with two foul shots and a dunk in the final 40 seconds. Deng hit 9-of-16 shots, and Gordon scored 22 as Chicago won its fifth straight.

Kobe Bryant was a non-factor for Los Angeles after scoring a combined 98 in the previous two games. He was content to defer and finished with 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting before fouling out for the first time since Dec. 1, 2005, in the final minute. Kwame Brown went right at Chicago’s Ben Wallace, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, and Parker scored 16.

Down by as much as 11 in the third quarter, the Bulls took a 70-69 lead with just over a minute left when Deng crossed the lane for a three-point play. And Chris Duhon fed Michael Sweetney for a dunk and layup to start the fourth, making it 74-70.

The lead was 82-74 after Sweetney, who scored eight of his 11 points in the quarter, converted three-point play and Thabo Sefolosha drove the baseline for a reverse layup that drew a loud reaction from the fans. They perked up again when Bryant was called for two fouls in a 20-second span with the Bulls leading 85-78 with less than five minutes left.

After playing 18 of their first 24 games at the Staples Center, the Lakers started a six-game, two-week trip short-handed. Forward Lamar Odom, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds in a victory over Chicago on Nov. 21, missed his fourth straight game with a sprained ligament in his right knee and is not expected to return until next month.

Bryant, the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer, seemed happy to set up his teammates after scoring 53 in a double-overtime win over Houston on Friday and 45 in an overtime loss to Washington on Sunday.

He was 3-of-10 with eight points in the first half with Kirk Hinrich guarding him, but the Lakers led 48-42.

Notes: The Bulls were without forward P.J. Brown, who missed his fourth game with a strained right foot. The veteran is averaging career-lows in points (5.3), rebounds (4.2) and minutes (16.5), and has made it clear he’s not happy in a reduced role. … Lakers coach Phil Jackson still gets that strange feeling when he returns to Chicago, where he coached the Bulls to six championships in the 1990s. “It feels like it’s just a breath away,” he said. “We had some great championship moments.” … The Lakers visit Minnesota, New Jersey, Miami, Orlando and Charlotte before returning home.

AP-ES-12-19-06 2322EST

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