Thursday night, two first place teams faced each other as the Spurs visited the Bulls at the United Center. Chicago came out on top finishing with a ten point lead to extend their win streak to four.
Derrick Rose had a career-high 42 points and the Chicago Bulls headed into the All-Star break with an impressive 109-99 victory over the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.
Luol Deng had 19 points and Carlos Boozer finished with 15 for Chicago, which shot 54 percent in its fourth consecutive win. The Bulls improved to 38-16 after winning 41 games last season.
Once again hearing “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants, Rose was at his best when San Antonio challenged Chicago in the fourth quarter. He had 13 points in the final period, answering Spurs baskets with acrobatic drives and long jumpers.
Rose’s long 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with about 3 minutes left gave Chicago a 101-90 lead and took the steam out of one San Antonio rally. He also finished with eight assists and five rebounds.
Tony Parker scored 26 points and All-Star Manu Ginobili added 16 for San Antonio, which had won six of seven. Reserve Gary Neal made four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Chicago led 83-75 after three quarters and grabbed control early in the fourth. Ronnie Brewer kickstarted a 11-2 run with a dunk and finished it off with a jumper that made it 94-80 with 8:08 remaining.
Tim Duncan had 14 points and nine rebounds hours after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced he would replace Yao Ming in the Western Conference’s starting lineup for Sunday’s All-Star game in Los Angeles.
Duncan enters the break with career-low averages in points and rebounds, but is a key reason why San Antonio leads the NBA with a 46-10 record.
The Spurs trailed for much of the night in the finale of their annual rodeo road trip but challenged Chicago with several bursts. Rose and the Bulls had an answer each time while improving to 25-4 at home in their best start at the United Center since 1997-98 championship team won 25 of its first 27 home games.
Duncan hit a running hook and Parker converted a three-point play to help San Antonio pull within two with 4:49 left in the third. But Deng stopped the spurt with a 3-pointer and Boozer had three straight points to make it 79-71.
Even with the loss, it was a banner first half for San Antonio, which set several franchise records for fastest starts. The Spurs went 6-3 on their nine-game trip and open the second half with a three-game homestand.
Rose grabbed a microphone before the game and thanked the fans for making him Chicago’s first All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1998.
The dynamic point guard then put on another show as the Bulls finished a strong start to the season that established them as one of the NBA elite teams once again.
Rose slithered through San Antonio’s stout defense for 21 points in the first half, making eight of 12 shots from the field. He scored Chicago’s last six points of the second quarter, connecting on a nice runner, a jumper and two free throws to give the Bulls a 58-51 lead at the break.
NOTES: Rose also was selected by the fans to participate in Saturday’s NBA Skills Challenge against Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Washington’s John Wall, Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City and New Orleans point guard Chris Paul. … The Spurs and Bulls split the season series. San Antonio rallied to beat Chicago 103-94 on Nov. 17. … Deng was shaken up with 9:40 left but stayed in the game. … Jordan celebrated his 48th birthday on Thursday.
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