The crowd at the United Center showered Derrick Rose with chants of "MVP! MVP!" – the same letters fans in Los Angeles have shouted at Kobe Bryant for more than a decade.
Rose had 29 points and nine assists, and the Chicago Bulls held off a late rally by the Lakers for an 88-84 win Friday night to match a season best with their fourth straight victory.
"Feels good, but I won’t let it go to my head," Rose said. "We’ve still got a lot more games to go."
The Bulls hit eight 3-pointers, three by Rose, who made the shot a key part of his game during the offseason. He had a pair of big baskets in the final 93 seconds, producing just enough offense to keep Bryant and the Lakers at bay.
"That’s when good players are supposed to take over the game," Rose said.
Reserve swingman Kyle Korver connected on a trio of 3s and scored 13 points for Chicago, which held a 26-13 edge in bench points.
The 84 points marked a season low for the Lakers. The two-time defending NBA champions were led by Bryant’s 23 points, though he shot just 9 for 23 from the floor. Los Angeles shot 43.6 percent from the field and scored only 10 points in the second quarter.
"It was just an ugly game," Bryant said. "Both teams struggled to make shots."
It was the Bulls’ first win over the Lakers in nearly four years. Los Angeles had won seven straight against Chicago since a 94-89 Bulls victory on Dec. 19, 2006, at the United Center.
"It feels good," Rose said. "We’re moving in the right direction."
Phil Jackson fell to 17-7 in his Lakers coaching career against the Bulls, the team he guided to six NBA championships in the 1990s.
Los Angeles had won three straight since a four-game losing streak.
"We beat the Lake-show, baby!" Bulls center Joakim Noah exclaimed.
After Korver hit two free throws to give Chicago its biggest advantage at 82-69 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lakers went on a six-point run. Then, during a timeout, the Bulls lost a point on an official’s review that changed a 3-pointer by Rose to two points.
After the timeout, Rose threw away a pass. Bryant scored on a short jumper, pulling the Lakers within four with 1:45 to play.
Rose ended the run with a drive to the basket, but Derek Fisher hit a 3 from corner with 48 seconds to play, cutting Chicago’s lead to 83-80.
Rose went to work again, hitting a fallaway 15-footer with the shot clock running down. That put the Bulls ahead by five with 25.2 seconds to play.
"His will is special," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He made a lot of big plays throughout the game."
Rose made one of two free throws with 14 seconds left. After a timeout, Bryant drew a foul, but also missed one of two from the line. He fouled Ronnie Brewer on the rebound attempt with 10.7 seconds remaining. Brewer hit both free throws to seal it.
"They beat us on 3-point shots," Jackson said.
The Lakers built a 13-point lead in the first by feeding big men Pau Gasol (10 points in the quarter) and Lamar Odom (eight points) in the paint and keeping the Bulls out of the lane on the other end.
Gasol had 21 points but wasn’t as active after the first quarter.
"They got physical with him and Pau got disconcerted," Jackson said. "He started worrying about whether he was getting fouled or not. It changed how he played."
Los Angeles led 22-12 after the opening quarter, limiting Chicago to 5-for-20 shooting. The Lakers outscored the Bulls 16-6 in the paint in the period.
Chicago still had just 17 points midway through the second quarter before finishing the half with a flourish. Rose returned from a rest and scored nine of his 14 first-half points in the final 7:19, leading the Bulls’ 16-2 run to finish the quarter.
The Lakers shot just 4 for 15 in the second period and committed eight turnovers, several coming off careless passes.
"We shot poorly," Jackson said. "Guys were long, inconsistent. We made one outside shot in the first half. That’s not a professional response to this game."
The Bulls stretched their advantage to eight by the end of the third period as the game began to open up.
Led by Rose, its jet-fast point guard, Chicago began pushing the ball up the floor, outscoring the Lakers 7-0 on fast-break points in the third.
As it did in the first quarter, the Bulls’ offense picked up when starting shooting guard Keith Bogans went to the bench. Brewer scored 10 points off the bench as his replacement and was very active on defense.
"They did a good job on defense," Bryant said. "They took away the opportunities we had."
Carlos Boozer, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, said this game might prove valuable down the line.
"It was a big win," Boozer said. "Hopefully, we can look at this game later on in the playoffs and use it as homework come June."
NOTES: The Bulls held a 16-4 advantage in fast-break points through the first three quarters, with all the transition points coming after Los Angeles outscored Chicago 4-0 in that category in the first period.