AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls are closing in on home-court advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Detroit Pistons don't have to worry about postseason positioning. They're headed for another long offseason.
Rose scored 13 of his 27 points in the first quarter and had a key assist in the final minute of the game, helping Chicago hold off the Pistons 101-96 on Friday night.
The Bulls have won 14 of 16 to improve to 55-20, good for a 2 1/2-game lead over Miami and a three-game edge over Boston in the East.
``Destiny is in our hands,' Rose said. ``We're just trying to finish the season strong.'
Detroit's remaining seven games are all it has left after it was officially eliminated from playoff contention. It reached the postseason for eight straight years before falling short last season.
The Pistons, who trailed Chicago by as many as 15, pulled within three points three times over the last 2:39 of the game.
That wasn't much consolation.
``Losing is losing,' Will Bynum said.
Detroit has done a lot of that, losing five of its last six games and 49 times overall this season.
``We haven't been on the same page all year,' Tayshaun Prince said.
The Bulls, meanwhile, have had great chemistry on the court and have won consistently despite dealing with a lot of injuries.
Rose led the way against the Pistons, just as he has for much of this season, making him an MVP front-runner.
He was 8 of 17 - making half of his six 3-point attempts - and had seven assists and four steals.
Rose made a perfect pass to set up Ronnie Brewer's layup for a six-point lead with 34 seconds left and connected on two free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining to seal the win.
As he has home and away lately, Rose heard ``M-V-P!' chants throughout the night.
``I'm used to it by now,' Rose said. ``At first, it was crazy and weird. Now, I'm grateful and I appreciate it.'
Chicago's Carlos Boozer had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
``Carlos was outstanding,' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ``When he's getting into the post, Derrick is getting shots off the dribble and we have the pick and roll, we've got a lot of ways to get easy offense.'
Richard Hamilton scored 30, Tayshaun Prince had 17 points and Will Bynum added 12 for the Pistons.
The Bulls were without center Joakim Noah because of a sprained right ankle. His replacement, Kurt Thomas, grabbed an offensive rebound and made a baseline jumper to give Chicago a six-point lead with just under a minute left.
Chicago also got contributions from Luol Deng, who scored 15, and reserve Ronnie Brewer, who added nine points.
Detroit decided to rest Tracy McGrady's tired legs and put Bynum in the lineup after giving Rodney Stuckey the option of starting or coming off the bench.
Rose made sure the Bulls wouldn't overlook the Pistons, making 4 of 5 shots and collecting three assists and three steals in the first 12 minutes of the game.
He gave the Bulls a scare in the second half when he limped off the court, trying to keep weight off his left ankle, but he was back after a timeout and made an assist on the ensuing possession.
``It was (scary) at first,' Rose said. ``But my will to play just got me back in the game.'
NOTES: After the Pistons retired his No. 10 jersey, Dennis Rodman said he has been informed he will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. ... Noah said his ankle is feeling better, but he didn't know when he would be healthy enough to play.
The Associated Press News Service
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