The Chicago Bulls led by as many as 22 points in the second half before the Phoenix Suns made a furious run to cut the lead to two points, but would get no closer.

Derrick Rose finished with 19 points, Luol Deng scored 18 and the Bulls continued to close in on the top seed in the Eastern Conference, hanging on to beat the Phoenix Suns 97-94 Tuesday.

They lead Miami and Boston by three games, with the Celtics visiting Thursday.

The Bulls led by 13 at the half and 22 in the third, only to see Phoenix whittle it to two in the fourth quarter, before pulling out their 16th win in 18 games.

Rose hit just 6 of 15 shots, but converted several big ones down the stretch, and the Bulls had too much balance and too much at stake to lose to a team that’s out of the playoff race.

Joakim Noah added 12 points, including eight in the third quarter, after missing three games with a sprained right ankle. Carlos Boozer scored 12 after sitting out Monday’s practice with an illness, and Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson scored 10 each off the bench.

Vince Carter scored 23, but the Suns lost for the sixth time in seven games. Grant Hill and Channing Frye scored 13 each, and Steve Nash had 16 assists after missing two games with flulike symptoms.

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