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After tough hit, Dunleavy's toughness inspires team

Dunleavy bounced back from receiving 10 stitches at halftime to score 21 of his team-high in the second half
AP/ Nam Y. Huh

With 7:54 remaining in the second quarter, the Bulls up 29-24 and the only thing between Houston Rockets' Chandler Parsons and a dunk being all 6'9 and 230 lbs of Mike Dunleavy, Parsons drove to score, but in bringing the ball high, his left elbow connected just above the right eye of Dunleavy.

Dunleavy went immediately to the ground and after realizing the severity of the blow, hopped right up and made a beeline for the Bulls locker room, leaving a trail of blood behind him.

The Bulls would go up 50-42 at the half and Dunleavy's return was listed as questionable with stitches being imminent and the possibility of a concussion.

One could've forgiven Dunleavy for choosing to end his night with his only statistical posting being just a steal, a turnover and two missed shots.

However, Dunleavy had other ideas.

"I just knew once they got the stitches done I was coming back," he said. "It was a pretty tough hit.

"The hit knocked a little sense into me, I guess."

He returned to start the third quarter and helped knock the Rockets off their heels.

In just over two minutes into the period, he drew a charge on Houston's James Harden and appeared to be in every single play during a 20-2 Bulls run that blew the game open. He finished the quarter with 18 of his team-high 21 points, five of his seven rebounds, going 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

"Man, he had 18?" Houston's Dwight Howard asked after the game, trying to explain how the game got away from his team. "Might have to put him on his back one time to stop him from being so hot; that's the only thing I can think of."

Dunleavy said his neck was sore and there was the worry of whiplash, but said he felt good in the second half.

"That was very impressive and I think it inspired the team," Joakim Noah said. "He had a huge knot on his head, looking like (Evander) Holyfield; a white version. Just coming out there, putting on a new jersey, gutting it out in the second half, it was good for (Dunleavy's alma mater) Duke's street credibility big time."