CHICAGO – Derrick Rose had 28 points and 11 assists and the Chicago Bulls won for the 13th time in 15 games, beating the struggling, short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers 100-91 on Saturday night.
Sluggish in a win over New Jersey the previous day, the Bulls trailed by 10 against a team that was missing three of its best players. But they outscored Cleveland 32-9 in the third quarter and hung on after nearly blowing a 15-point lead in the fourth, sending the Cavaliers to their 16th loss in 17 games.
Luol Deng had 23 points for Chicago, and Carlos Boozer added 20 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cavaliers hung in even though center Anderson Varejao (broken cheekbone) and guards Mo Williams (left hip flexor strain) and Daniel Gibson (left thigh contusion) were sidelined. They cut it to 92-89 on Antawn Jamison's two free throws with 2:48 remaining but wound up with their 14th straight road loss.
Rose converted a layup, Boozer hit one of two free throws, Kurt Thomas stripped J.J. Hickson underneath, and the Bulls prevailed despite missing three free throws in the final 36 seconds.
Hickson scored 21 points. Jamison added 19, but the Cavaliers were 3 of 21 from the field in the third quarter — turning a 61-53 halftime lead turned into an 85-70 deficit.
Cleveland was up 63-53 early in the third when the Bulls went on an 18-2 run and took control.
A dunk and finger roll by Deng and a layup by Boozer put Chicago ahead 66-65. Rose nailed a 3 from the wing and Thomas hit a jumper to make 71-65, capping the run with 5:51 left in the quarter.
If ever there was a game that seemed made for a blowout, this was one. Afterall, Williams missed his second game. Varejao and Gibson were out of the lineup after being injured in a loss to Charlotte on Wednesday.
Instead, the Cavaliers hit 23 of 42 shots while building a 61-53 halftime lead behind Jamison (14 points) and Hickson (12 points).
NOTES: Leon Powe started in Varejao's place. ... With Williams and Gibson out, Ramon Sessions started at point guard. ... The Cavaliers have not won a road game since Nov. 9, when they beat New Jersey 93-91. ... Thomas led the Bulls with 13 rebounds.