Bulls now lead Heat by 3 games in East
Derrick Rose remembered the celebration the last time the Chicago Bulls met Toronto. He wasn't about to let the Raptors yuck it up this time.
Rose had 36 points and 10 assists, and Chicago took another step toward the top seed in the Eastern Conference with its 15th victory in 17 games, hanging on to beat the short-handed Raptors 113-106 on Saturday night.
The Bulls currently lead Miami by three games and Boston by 3 1/2. They're also within one of San Antonio for the NBA's best record after squeezing by one of the league's weakest teams.
Rose scored at least 30 for the third time in five games and got a measure of revenge for a perceived slight in a loss at Toronto in late February.
''I just remember them celebrating after they won back in Toronto,'' he said.
To Rose, it was embarassing.
''When you see people celebrating when they normally don't do that if you watch other games after they win, it kind of gets to you, especially being the person that I am,'' he said. ''I just try to feed off of anything, where by nature I'm just a quiet guy trying to get along with a lot of people.''
Jerryd Bayless, charged with the unenviable task of guarding Rose, had nothing but praise for him.
''That's what an MVP is I guess,'' Bayless said. ''I think he should be it. I can't speak highly enough about him.''
Thanks in part to his star, Tom Thibodeau broke Phil Jackson's club record for wins by a first-year coach as the Bulls improved to 56-20, but Rose was hardly alone.
Carlos Boozer added 18 points and 10 rebounds despite early foul trouble, Luol Deng scored 17 points and Taj Gibson had 15 points and nine boards. Kyle Korver came up big down the stretch to finish with 10 points, and Chicago won despite some shaky stretches on defense, with Toronto shooting just over 50 percent.
It helped that the Bulls outrebounded the Raptors 43-33 even though Joakim Noah missed his third straight game because of a sprained right ankle. The Raptors were no picture of health, either.
With leading scorer Andrea Bargnani sidelined by a sore right ankle and guard Jose Calderon staying home because of a sore left hamstring, the Raptors dropped their sixth straight.
Bayless, filling in for Calderon, and DeMar DeRozan each scored 26 points for Toronto. Leandro Barbosa added 18 points, and Ed Davis had 17 points and 11 rebounds in Bargnani's place.
''We kept the momentum at our pace,'' DeRozan said. ''They just executed well and we made a few mistakes at the end of the game.''
The Bulls led by as much as 13 in the first half and were up 53-43 at the break, but the Raptors wiped that out in the third, tying it at 74-74 at one point before Chicago regained the lead. The Bulls got it back up to 11 in the fourth and hung on after seeing it shrink to four several times.
It was 102-98 after DeRozan drove for a layup with 2:30 left, but Kyle Korver buried a three from the right corner with 1:40 remaining.
Then, after Bayless banked in a runner, Korver nailed a jumper at the shot-clock buzzer to make it 107-100 with just over a minute left.
The Raptors weren't quite finished as Barbosa banked in a runner.
Rose answered by nailing a floater with 26.3 seconds left to boost the lead back up to seven to give the Bulls some breathing room, although he followed that with a poor defensive play. He flew out at Bayless and fouled him as he attempted a corner jumper with 20.3 seconds left.
Bayless hit both free throws after the shot was downgraded from a three, but Korver hit two of his own and the Bulls hung on.
''You have to win different ways,'' Thibodeau said. ''The bottom line is getting the win. They were short-handed. They played extremely well. They played hard, they played smart, they played unselfishly. They put a lot of pressure on us, and in the end, I thought we did the things that we needed to do.''
NOTES: The Bulls hope to have Noah back Tuesday night against Phoenix. ''He's almost there,'' Thibodeau said. ''We're going to wait one more day. He's good straight ahead and not quite there laterally yet.'' ... Rose said he was fine after hurting his left ankle in the second half Friday night at Detroit. ''Right now, its good,'' he said before the game.