Derrick Rose scored 30 points and the Bulls beat the Orlando Magic, 101-93, last night in Chicago for their season-high fourth straight win.
For all the speculation about coach Vinny Del Negro’s job status, the Bulls are playing their best ball of the year. And so is Rose, who finished 2 points shy of a career high he set against Atlanta last month.
Slowed by an ankle injury early on, he started the new year on the right foot after averaging just more than 20 points in December.
Rose scored the final 6 points of a 20-2 run spanning the second and third quarters that gave Chicago a 13-point lead, and he hit two free throws with 24.5 seconds left in the game to make it 98-93 after J.J. Redick hit a 3-pointer, pulling Orlando within 3.
The Magic called time, but Matt Barnes missed a lean-in 3-point attempt, and Jameer Nelson clanged another from beyond the arc. Ryan Anderson then had another shot from long range rim out with seven seconds left off an inbound pass, and the Bulls hung on.
Barnes did his best to keep Orlando in it, scoring 15 of his season-high 23 points in the third quarter. Anderson added 12, including a 3-pointer that pulled the Magic to 90-85 with just over three minutes left, but Orlando’s stars were all but invisible.
Cavaliers 94, Nets 86 - LeBron James had 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists, Anderson Varejao (15 points, 12 rebounds) provided a boost on both ends, and visiting Cleveland beat New Jersey to win its seventh straight.
Cleveland struggled against the league’s worst team for much of the game, leading by only 4 points with 4 1/2 minutes left.
James then put it away, throwing down a dunk and setting up Daniel Gibson for a 3-pointer and an 86-77 lead with 3:05 remaining.
Nuggets 105, Jazz 95 - Ty Lawson had 23 points and nine assists and visiting Denver beat Utah to end a three-game losing streak despite playing without injured stars Carmelo Anthony (right knee contusion) and Chauncey Billups (left groin strain).
With Anthony missing his first game of the season and Billups his fifth of six, the Nuggets compensated with gritty defense, forcing Utah into a season-high 26 turnovers.
Bobcats 107, Heat 97 - Stephen Jackson scored 13 of his season-high 35 points in the fourth quarter, D.J. Augustin added all 13 of his in the final 11 minutes, and Charlotte beat Miami for just its second road win of the season.
Bucks 103, Thunder 97 - Michael Redd scored 6 of his 27 points in overtime to help host Milwaukee snap a four-game losing streak and end a five-game winning streak for Oklahoma City.
Spurs 97, Wizards 86 - Tim Duncan scored 23 points and reserve Roger Mason Jr. added a season-high 20 to lead visiting San Antonio to its fifth straight victory and send Washington to its fourth straight loss.
Pacers 122, Timberwolves 111 - Roy Hibbert and Luther Head each scored 21 points and host Indiana beat Minnesota to snap an eight-game losing streak.
Hornets 99, Rockets 95 - Chris Paul had 28 points and nine assists, and host New Orleans closed the game on a 13-2 run to pull out a victory over Houston.
Grizzlies 128, Suns 103 - O.J. Mayo had 25 points, reserve Sam Young added a career-high 22 and Memphis routed host Phoenix for its most lopsided victory of the season.
Trail Blazers 105, Warriors 89 - Brandon Roy scored 37 points, Andre Miller added 23 and host Portland beat Golden State despite dressing only eight players.
Mavericks 99, Kings 91 - Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points, pacing Dallas at Sacramento.