(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls will try to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday afternoon when the teams meet for Game 4 at the United Center.
The Bulls grabbed a 2-1 advantage in this Eastern Conference semifinal showdown Friday night thanks to former MVP Derrick Rose.
Rose banked in a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, giving his Bulls a 99-96 win over the Cavaliers and the series lead.
Rose netted 30 points with seven assists and seven rebounds while producing more than his share of highlights, but that wasn't enough for the former MVP.
With the game knotted at 96-96 after Cleveland's J.R. Smith hit a deep 3, Rose was hounded near midcourt by LeBron James, who appeared to foul Rose multiple times -- the whistles were quiet -- as the ball rolled out of bounds with three seconds to play.
Chicago took a timeout, then went back to Rose out of the huddle. Rose received the inbounds pass and dribbled hard to the right wing before pulling up from 26 feet with Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson draped all over him.
It was Rose's first 3-pointer of the game and his first-career playoff buzzer beater. But as he was mobbed by teammates, Rose remained stoic and composed, like he's been there before.
"When I released the ball I felt like it was a good shot," said Rose.
"That was his greatness to get the shot off," added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Jimmy Butler, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player on Thursday, scored 20 points for the Bulls. Rose and Butler combined for 23 of the 25 Chicago points in the fourth quarter.
Chicago held a pair of five-point leads in the fourth. Both times, Smith hit from deep to cap a mini Cleveland run and tie the game. He did it again with 10.8 seconds left after Taj Gibson put the Bulls up 96-93 with a pair of free throws.
James struggled from the floor, finishing 8-for-25 overall and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, but still filled the stat sheet with 27 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds in defeat. He wasn't given much help from his teammates, however, with no other Cavalier scoring more than 14 points.
"My guys played their hearts out," said Cavs coach David Blatt. "It was a hard played game, on the part of both teams. Physical but not dirty."
Kyrie Irving appeared to roll his ankle early in the game and wasn't his usual self, finishing just 3-for-13 for 11 points with no assists.
"Kyrie has been playing hurt," added Blatt. "He has a lot of courage. He's playing his heart out, he's playing hurt, and he's giving us all he has."
The injury bug, which hit the Bulls hard during the regular season, finally caught up to Pau Gasol. He was the only member of Chicago's starting five to stay healthy through most of the season, but a tight hamstring allowed him only six points. He is questionable for Sunday.
Game 5 will be Tuesday night back at Quicken Loans Arena.