CHICAGO (AP) -Derrick Rose insisted he was feeling it after the fourth game in five nights, even if those strong bursts suggested otherwise.
He looked fine. So did Luol Deng, and the Bulls appeared to be in a better place, too.
Rose scored 24 to back Deng's 25-point effort, and Chicago beat the Miami Heat 95-91 Saturday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
``Definitely, we needed this one,' Rose said. ``It gives us more confidence. Our locker room was way more cheerful than it was the past couple of games. Now, we just got to keep it going.'
After blowing a fourth-quarter lead the previous night at Atlanta, the Bulls showed the poise that led to five straight wins before this skid and prevailed even though they were missing the injured Joakim Noah and suspended Tyrus Thomas.
They attacked the basket, made enough stops and held on after taking the lead early in the fourth, extending Miami's season-high losing streak to five.
Jermaine O'Neal tied season highs with 24 points and 16 rebounds, Dwyane Wade added 20 points, but the Heat fell for the seventh time in eight games.
``We should be better,' O'Neal said.
He'll get no argument from Wade, who said the effort is ``lagging' and that the Heat are too predictable.
``We've got to find a way to mix it up,' Wade said. ``Everyone knows exactly what we're going to do.'
They were within two - 85-83 - after a hook shot and layup by O'Neal with 2:34 left, but Rose responded with two free throws. Rafer Alston then got called for an offensive foul in a collision with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich as he tried to hand the ball off on the wing.
Rose drove the right side of the lane for a layup over O'Neal, perfectly protecting the ball, to make it 89-83 with 1:20 remaining. O'Neal then answered with two free throws and hit another after missing one with 43 seconds left to make it a three-point game, but a driving Rose found Deng, who was supposed to pop out, down low. That resulted in two foul shots with 35 seconds left that made it a five-point game and allowed Chicago to exhale after a rough day. A rough stretch, actually.
``All I've got to say is Benadryl,' a tired Rose said. ``You find yourself sleeping on the plane. You get off and (are) up all night. You try to go to sleep, but you can't. Now, every time I get off the plane or get home, I take a Benadryl and go right to sleep.'
Thomas' suspension for conduct detrimental to the team could have thrown the Bulls even farther off kilter, considering Noah is nursing plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Yet they prevailed, anyway.
``We needed it,' Deng said. ``We were missing those guys, especially with the rebounding
Tied at 69 through three quarters, the Bulls got a three-point play from Brad Miller to start the fourth and baskets by Deng and Rose following a jumper by the Heat's Michael Beasley to take a 76-71 lead. Chicago never trailed after that.
The Bulls were outrebounded 52-41 but still had more second-chance points than the Heat (19 to 15) and more points in the paint (38-30). They also outscored the Heat 28-16 at the foul line, with Deng hitting 9 of 11 free throws and John Salmons (15 points) converting all five. Miller, meanwhile, finished with 13 points while tying a career high with five steals and even led the fastbreak - or, as he put it, ``a slowbreak.'
NOTES: With the Bulls short-handed up front, veteran G Lindsey Hunter joked he was ready to help out on the inside. ``I did some work at the four position to make sure just in case they needed me,' he said. ``My shot-blocking is not there, but everything else, I think I can handle.' His post moves? ``Drop step is pretty nice,' he said. ``I have a counter to that with my jump hook.' ... This was just the third home game for the Bulls since Jan. 11. ... Heat G Mario Chalmers missed his fifth straight game with a partially torn ligament in his left thumb. ... O'Neal also had a season-high five assists.
The Associated Press News Service
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