Rose blooms to put Bulls on brink of playoffs

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Derrick Rose propelled the Chicago Bulls to within one win of the NBA playoffs, scoring a career-high 39 points in his team's 101-93 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

Kirk Hinrich added a season-high 30 for the Bulls, who restored a one-game lead over the Toronto Raptors for the eighth and final Eastern conference playoffs berth with one game remaining against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday.

"Nothing is accomplished other than the fact that we have an opportunity," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro told reporters. "We have to find the energy to do it again."

Chicago either needs to win on Wednesday or for the Raptors to lose against the New York Knicks.

Toronto has the tie-break advantage having won two of their three games with the Bulls this season should they finish with the same record.

The Bulls (40-41) trailed the Celtics by one point after three quarters but went on a 14-4 run to start the fourth, where Rose scored 17 points and made all six of his field goal attempts.

HINRICH MANEUVER

Boston pulled to within four points with 1:31 to go but Hinrich answered with a big three-pointer and a jumper to help Chicago restore their cushion.

Paul Pierce scored 28 points for the Celtics (50-31), who have lost six of nine to drop to the fourth seed in the East, handing third spot to the Atlanta Hawks.

"I would like a three, two or one (seed), but we didn't get it," said Boston coach Doc Rivers. "When you have one team fighting for their lives, you knew it would be tough."

Long-time rivals Chicago and Boston engaged in a thrilling first-round playoff series a year ago which went to a game seven.

Tuesday's clash was another close contest, Chicago taking a three-point advantage at halftime and clinging on to boost their playoff hopes.

Kevin Garnett had 14 points and nine rebounds in his return from his latest injury and Ray Allen added 25 but could not rescue Boston.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Alastair Himmer)