Entering the second half of the regular season with a renewed focus was the prime objective of the Bulls (31-22) and in Tuesday night’s 96-87 win over the Hornets (19-35) at New Orleans Arena, for the most part, they accomplished the task.

It wasn’t pretty—wins rarely are with this blue-collar bunch—but with the return of veteran starting point guard Kirk Hinrich to the lineup, a balanced offensive effort and a stingy performance on the defensive end of the floor got the Bulls back to playing their trademark brand of basketball after a series of uneven outings in their previous few games.

The Bulls, led by the forward tandem of Duke products Carlos Boozer (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Luol Deng (20 points, five rebounds) didn’t appear to have an All-Star break hangover at the outset of the contest, as they scored the first six points of the contest before the hosts got on the board.

But the Hornets quickly recovered, as they exploited their guests turnover woes and trouble finishing around the basket, going on a 15-4 run, sparked by the backcourt of scorer Eric Gordon (20 points) and playmaker Greivis Vasquez (11 points, 10 assists).

The visitors bounced back with a 10-2 spurt of their own, as Hinrich, back in the lineup after missing seven consecutive games with an infection in his right elbow, ensured the team’s shot distribution was handled correctly.