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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (CBS) — Derrick Rose proved why he is the Bulls’ MVP Sunday night, as he buried a triple with 6.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter and sent the game into overtime against the Detroit Pistons.
The Bulls ended up beating the Pistons for the 15th straight time, 100-94.
At the time of Rose’s saving shot, there were no timeouts remaining, and the Bulls didn’t have a chance to stop and set up a play, but Rose didn’t need any time to plan his next move.
He dribbled around a high screen and pulled up just to the right of the top of the arc, where he sank a tying 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left.
“Freelancing,” Rose said. “Pick-and-roll, see what we could get in transition, they backed up and I shot the ball.”
In the end, Rose finished with 24 points despite a bad right ankle, and by the end of the night he was wearing a small bandage at the top of the bridge of his nose following a fourth-quarter foul by Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva.
Rodney Stuckey scored 32 points for the Pistons, but he missed two crucial free throws late in the fourth quarter. Rose’s 3-pointer tied the game at 86 and sent it to the extra session.
“We did everything we needed to win the game other than actually winning the game,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “We made a ton of winning plays, but in this league it is all or nothing, and at the end, the outcome is a loss.”
Joakim Noah had 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls, who are 3 1/2 games ahead of Miami in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are an NBA-best 46-14. Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City is two games behind.
The Bulls trailed by three in the final minute of the fourth quarter when Carlos Boozer made a shot from the baseline to pull to 84-83 with 56.4 seconds remaining. Tayshaun Prince missed on a drive at the other end, but Boozer couldn’t convert inside.
Stuckey made one of two free throws with 16.1 seconds remaining, and the Bulls called a timeout, but Luol Deng was called for a five-second violation before inbounding. Stuckey again could make only one of two free throws with 14.2 seconds left, and Rose was able to work his way free for a 3 from near the top of the arc to tie it.
Stuckey’s shot from near the free throw line missed, and the game went to overtime.
“We know we have to play better, but at this point of the year, every win is important,” Noah said. “When Derrick hit that 3, it just gave our team new life, and we just handled our business in overtime.”
The Bulls led by one when Kyle Korver made an open 3 from the right wing to make it 95-91. Greg Monroe missed a layup at the other end, and the Bulls held on.
Rose has been bothered by an injured right ankle, and he shot 1 of 13 in Thursday’s overtime win over Miami. He was aggressive early against the Pistons, driving smoothly to the basket for a layup to open the scoring and then sinking a perimeter jumper moments later.
Rose and Noah scored 12 points apiece for the Bulls in the first half, but the Pistons received an unexpected lift from Villanueva.
After playing only 40 minutes previously during an injury-plagued season, Villanueva came off the bench to score 11 points in the first half, giving Detroit a much-needed boost against the Bulls’ tough defense.
The Bulls still led 49-41 at halftime and took a 60-46 advantage on a 3-pointer by former Detroit star Richard Hamilton. Then it was the Pistons’ turn to clamp down. Detroit held the Bulls to only four points the rest of the quarter and took a 66-64 lead into the fourth after a basket by Monroe inside.
Villanueva opened the fourth with a layup and Damien Wilkins added a dunk to give the Pistons a six-point lead, but the Bulls got some momentum back when Villanueva was whistled for a flagrant foul after he appeared to catch Rose in the face when the star point guard tried to finish a fast break.
“I was definitely going for the ball, and I certainly had no intention of hitting him in the nose,” Villanueva said. “He said some things, and I said something back, but I got the technical. It was just heat of the moment stuff.”
After that exchange, the Bulls took a 77-76 lead on a free throw by C.J. Watson.
“I was mad. I’m sick and tired of people trying to take cheap shots at me,” Rose said. “He didn’t even aim for the ball.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)