Bulls edge Raptors, inflate lead in Eastern Conference

Posted: 03/04/2011 in NBA
Bulls top Raptors, close in on top seed
Derrick Rose scored 36 points and dished out 10 assists, and the Bulls solidified their hold atop the Eastern Conference with a 113-106 win over the Toronto Raptors. Chicago moved three games clear of Miami for first in the conference. The Bulls, winners of three straight and seven of eight, have just six games left. The next two are at home – against Phoenix and Boston.

Carlos Boozer tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who were without forward Joakim Noah for a third straight game. He’s been sidelined due to a sprained right ankle. Luol Deng added 17 points.

“He was amazing on both sides,” Boozer said of Rose. “Defensively, he got big plays, big blocks. I don’t think I’ve seen him that active on both sides. It was amazing to see and he did a good job at leading us tonight.”

DeMar DeRozan and Jerryd Bayless each had 26 points for Toronto, which lost its sixth in a row.

DeRozan’s layup had the visitors within 102-98 with 2:30 left, but Rose then created an opportunity by dribbling into the lane before finding Kyle Korver for a three-pointer from the right corner.

The two connected a short time later, but in an unconventional way. Rose lost the ball as the shot clock was about to expire, but in a flash got it to Korver for a right baseline shot with 62 seconds left.

That expanded the lead to 107-100 and the Bulls held on from there, thanks in part to a 9-of-9 performance from the foul line in the last quarter. They were 26-of-28 for the game. That included a 13-of-14 effort from Rose.

“He’s being an overall great player and that’s what an MVP is. I think he should be it and I can’t speak highly enough about him,” Bayless said of Rose.

The Bulls were up 25-19 after one quarter and led throughout the second before going to the locker room with a 53-43 advantage.

The Raptors finally came to life in the third, a period that saw Bayless scored 14 points. DeRozan’s three-point play tied it at 74, but Chicago scored the next seven, capped by a Deng three. It was 83-75 going to the fourth.

– Steve


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