Chicago Bulls magic number at one after beating Dallas Mavericks
By AP FeedFoxSports
Derrick Rose could feel some pain in the area of his right ankle and foot, the site of his most recent injury during a season in which he's missed 26 games.
It was OK, though. All worth it. The fans were cheering for him, he was back on the court and the Chicago Bulls got another victory that moved them closer to clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
''It was throbbing a little, but the great thing about it is we got the win and we get a couple of days off to get treatment, and I'm going to stay off my feet and hopefully it's going to get better,'' Rose said after the Bulls beat the Dallas Mavericks 93-83 on Saturday night.
Rose's return after missing three straight games wasn't spectacular, but it was still a 32-minute effort that saw him get 11 points and eight assists.
''I think he played a very controlled type game. He was taking care of the ball, running the offense and just trying to get a feel for being out there again,'' Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said
The Bulls, able to use their starting five for just the 14th time this season, got 22 points from Luol Deng and 19 from Richard Hamilton in beating a Mavericks team that had already clinched a playoff berth two nights earlier, played at home Friday night and rested guards Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
The victory by the Bulls (48-16) gave them a 2 1/2 game lead over Miami for the top seed in the East after the Heat lost at home to Washington. Chicago has two regular season games left, against Indiana and Cleveland.
''We still have to win out,'' said Rose, who acknowledged he didn't have his usual confidence driving the lane and was content to pass the ball to Deng and Hamilton.
''We're not worried about other teams, just what we are trying to do here and we're trying to win every game,'' he said.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points and Rodrigue Beaubois, starting in place of Kidd, added 16 — 10 in the final quarter — despite playing the second half with a dislocated finger. After leaving with about 7 1/2 minutes to go in the first half after hurting his finger guarding Ronnie Brewer, he returned minutes later to the game with his fingers taped.
''Once they put the fingers together, I said it's good enough to play,'' Beaubois said.
''He held up to the physicality of it and came back to play. ... I thought it was great how he got a dislocated finger popped back in and then came back,'' Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
Deng's three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer capped an 11-0 run and gave the Bulls a 66-56 lead. But Dallas rallied as Vince Carter had nine points and Brandan Wright's follow-up basket cut the lead to 75-72 with just under six minutes remaining.
Joakim Noah and Rose scored for the Bulls before Kyle Korver hit his third three of the game to restore the lead to nine points. Deng then hit a three from the corner with just under two minutes left and Chicago had a 90-79 lead.
''They did a good job of finding the shooters. They have a bunch of guys that can get the ball off quickly,'' Carlisle said. ''Deng and Korver hit big ones for them.''
Nowitzki's eight second-quarter points helped the Mavs close a 13-point deficit down to six by halftime.
Hamilton had 10 points and Carlos Boozer eight as Chicago opened a 21-8 lead after one quarter, the Mavericks' lowest scoring quarter of the season.
NOTES: The Bulls are 17-9 in the 26 games Rose has missed. ... Fans cheered loudly when the public address announcer congratulated White Sox pitcher Phil Humber on his perfect game in Seattle on Saturday. The final pitch was shown on the video screen above the court.