Rose, Hinrich lead Bulls past Bobcats, 96-88

CHICAGO (AP) — Derrick Rose scored 26 points, Kirk Hinrich added 24 and the Chicago Bulls beat the Charlotte Bobcats 96-88 on Saturday night to boost their playoff hopes.

Trailing by six midway through the fourth after building a 13-point lead in the first half, the Bulls went on a 16-3 run and pulled out their sixth win in eight games.

They remained 1½ games behind eighth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference and pulled within three of Charlotte thanks to a late surge that came just when it appeared the Bobcats were ready to put the game away.

Boris Diaw scored 18 points and former Bulls player Larry Hughes and Gerald Wallace added 14 apiece, but Charlotte couldn't protect a six-point lead it built in the fourth after trailing the entire game.

A 3-pointer by D.J. Augustin with 6:15 left made it 82-76. Then, in a flash, the Bulls were on their way.

Rose, who scored six points in the decisive run, started it with two free throws and Joakim Noah delighted the crowd by dunking on Tyrus Thomas.

After a layup by Diaw, Rose drove for one of his own before Hinrich put the Bulls ahead for good with a 3 that made it 85-84 with 3:19 remaining. Rose added a driving reverse layup and Deng made it a five-point game on a layup with 1:15 left, pumping his fist as the ball went in.

Noah, who scored all 11 of his points in the second half, added another dunk after a free throw by Hughes, and Hinrich capped the run with a free throw to make it 92-85 with 35.6 seconds left.

The late drama aside, the Bulls were in control for much of the night thanks to Rose and Hinrich, not to mention a dominant effort on the glass.

Noah, making his second straight start after being limited by plantar fasciitis in his left foot, had 16 rebounds as Chicago outrebounded Charlotte 56-34. Gibson had 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Hinrich, meanwhile, hit 9 of 12 shots even though he's been bothered lately by a sprained left ankle. And Rose was 10 of 19 from the field.

NOTES: Chicago held out F James Johnson because of soreness stemming from a partially tore the plantar fascia in his right foot that he suffered late last month. ... Asked about Friday's overtime win over Milwaukee, Bobcats coach Larry Brown responded: "I didn't have as good a seat as I normally have. But (San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich) called me tonight to ask me who got thrown out sooner. I said, 'Well, we were an hour earlier than you.'" Both coaches got tossed in the second quarter of their games, with Brown getting ejected against the Bucks and Popovich getting booted against Orlando.