CHICAGO – Derrick Rose scored 23 points in his return from back pain, and the Chicago Bulls beat the struggling Atlanta Hawks 90-79 on Monday.
Rose looked sharp after missing the previous five games, and the Bulls played more like championship contenders after a brutal loss to New Jersey two days earlier. They led by 18 through the first quarter and were up 55-37 at halftime, but found themselves hanging on in the end after a big push by Atlanta.
The Bulls were clinging to an 85-79 lead after a late 3-pointer by Jannero Pargo when Luol Deng nailed a 3 of his own to make it a nine-point game. Rose then buried a turnaround jumper to make it 90-79 with 2:10 remaining and Chicago prevailed, sending Atlanta to its seventh loss in 10 games.
Pargo provided a big spark off the bench for Atlanta with a season-high 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Josh Smith added 17 points and 12 rebounds.