Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Derrick Rose put together a vintage performance on Friday.
It was fitting that the game ended on his terms.
Rose banked in a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, giving his Chicago Bulls a 99-96 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 2-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.
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.
LeBron 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 Cavs started the game 0-for-7, but James wouldn't let them fall behind by much. He played all 12 minutes, a reversal of Blatt's typical substitution pattern, and scored or assisted on 22 of Cleveland's 24 first-quarter points.
They held Chicago to 7-of-26 shooting and led 24-18 after one.
Nikola Mirotic, who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting this season, took the floor to start the second quarter and immediately changed the game, grabbing an offensive rebound and earning a trip to the foul line 36 seconds in. He surpassed his minute total from the first two games combined, playing nearly the entire period and contributing 11 of his 12 points and four boards by halftime.
Chicago managed to cut into its deficit and even led late in the half following Mike Dunleavy's three-point play, but Matthew Dellavedova hit a triple at the other end to send the Cavs into the break with a 49-47 edge.
Rose made headlines for the wrong reasons in the last week after not attempting a free throw for three straight games for the first time in his career. He started to attack the basket in the second half, earning a trip to the stripe at 10:12 of the third. He finished 9-for-10 from the line.
James passed Tony Parker, Steve Nash and Larry Bird on the all-time playoff assist list. He is currently in fourth place ... Smith returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for hitting Celtics forward Jae Crowder in the face in Cleveland's first-round series ... Rose was 9-for-34 in his previous two home games ... Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavs ... Neither team shot above 39 percent from the floor ... The Bulls outrebounded Cleveland 54-39 ... There were 19 lead changes and 17 ties.