CHICAGO: NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose scored 33 points to lead Chicago to a 95-83 victory Tuesday that put the Bulls one win away from reaching the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals.
Luol Deng added 23 points for Chicago, who took a three-games-to-two lead in the best-of-seven second-round playoff series.
The last time Chicago reached the conference finals was in 1998, when superstar Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen completed their second NBA title three-peat.
The Hawks will try to rebound Thursday when they host game six.
Taj Gibson came off the bench and scored 11 points for the Bulls, all in the fourth quarter. Rose also scored 11 in the fourth, as Chicago out-scored the Hawks 26-15 in the period.
Rose, who needed 32 shots to score 34 points in the Bulls’ game-four defeat, made 11-of-24 and handed out nine assists.
Jeff Teague, playing in place of injured Kirk Hinrich, had 21 points and Josh Smith added 16 points for the Hawks.
Joe Johnson scored 15 and Al Horford chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta.
The winner of the series will play either Miami or Boston in the conference finals for a chance to take on a team from the West for the NBA crown.
The Heat lead their series 3-1 and will try to close out the Celtics in game five Wednesday in Miami.
While Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history as he helped the Bulls build the league’s best regular-season record, Chicago has had its struggles in these playoffs.
“Just playing together,” Rose said of Chicago’s surge in the final period, in which they trailed 70-69 in the early going but turned things around with a 9-0 scoring run.
“Making sure there’s help-side defense. Making everything tough on them, and some of the people that came off the bench, they played tremendous for us.”
Rose started the charge with a lay-up, then delivered a no-look pass to Gibson for a three-point play and added another basket.
Midway through the fourth Rose drove to the basket and was fouled, converting the three-point play for an 85-76 Chicago lead.
The Hawks trimmed the deficit to six, only for Chicago to score eight straight points, six of them from Gibson.
– Agence France-Presse