Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Derrick Rose scored 31 points and Kirk Hinrich stepped up with 27, but Chicago still held its breath until the final shot, holding on for a 108-106 victory over Cleveland, in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Chicago made just 4-of-8 foul shots in the final 30 seconds and nearly lost an eight-point lead to a barrage of Cleveland three-pointers. Yet, in Cleveland's final made dash for an insurmountable series lead, the ball found its way into Anthony Parker's hands, not LeBron James. Parker collected a rebound off a missed free throw and did not have time to find James. Instead, he missed a halfcourt heave at the horn.
Luol Deng added 20 points and Joakim Noah notched a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls, who now trail the best-of-seven series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for Sunday at the United Center.
"They just kept coming at us," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Cleveland is so difficult to guard when LeBron is coming at you like that. We just had to find a way to battle."
James led Cleveland with 39 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Mo Williams added 21 points. The duo took 42 shots -- over half of Cleveland's 82 team attempts. Antawn Jamison registered a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
"We did clean up what we wanted to do from Game 2 to Game 3," James said. "They made adjustments, we made adjustments, but they were able to knock down some open shots."
Cleveland battled back to create fourth-quarter frenzy at the United Center.
The Bulls led by 11 when Hinrich stepped back and drained a trey for an 84-73 edge with just over nine minutes to play. Cleveland rattled off the next five points and then drew within five at 86-81 on Parker's three with 7:40 on the clock. The margin whittled to four and then two at 94-92 on Jamison's layup on a pick-and-roll with 4:17 left.
However, Chicago did not relent or cave, never relinquishing the lead, scoring six straight capped by two Rose buckets after the margin had dwindled to two. Yet, Cleveland still kept firing. First, Williams connected from long range with 30.7 ticks left, then after Hinrich missed two free throws, James stepped back and buried a three for a 104-102 game with 11 seconds remaining.
Rose then went to the charity stripe and made 1-of-2 free throws for a 105-102 game with 10.1 seconds remaining. Chicago wisely fouled Anderson Varejao with 8.9 seconds left to avoid James or Williams attempting a game-tying three. The forward made 1-of-2, and Brad Miller grabbed the rebound. He was fouled with 6.2 seconds left and made both. Again Cleveland answered, as Williams faded away and drained an off-balance trey with 3.8 seconds to go for a one-point margin.
Deng was fouled with 3.2 seconds left, made 1-of-2, but Parker misfired off the side of the rim from mid-court as time expired.
Chicago came out with enthusiasm and crisp efficiency, scoring eight of the game's first 10 points capped by two Noah free throws. Deng punctuated three straight buckets for the home team moments later, opening a 27-18 lead. Rose's jumper increased the margin to double digits, 32-21, after 12 minutes of game action.
Deng's three-point play capped a 7-2 stretch to start the second stanza, making the margin 39-23 just over two minutes in. Delonte West's pull-up jumper later in the stanza drew the Cavs within 52-45, but the Bulls tallied the final four points to hold the same cushion they began the period with at 56-45.
Rose led Chicago with 15 points, as did James for Cleveland, but the big surprise was Hinrich, who made 5-of-7 shots for 12 first-half points.
The Bulls ended the quarter how they began it with an 11-point lead, but the game took a few twists and turns along the way. Rose, Hinrich and Taj Gibson capped a blitz of scoring with consecutive buckets for a 68-47 lead, putting the finishing touches on a 12-2 start to the period.
Cleveland did not quit, fighting back with the next 13 points capped by Varejao's two free throws for a 68-60 game. The Bulls didn't let the Cavs get any closer in the quarter, taking a 79-68 advantage into the final 12 minutes of game action.
Game Notes: Rose also dished out seven assists, as Chicago assisted on 22 of 42 made field goals...Cleveland lived on the offensive glass, grabbing 14 offensive boards on the game...Chicago shot 50 percent from the floor, while Cleveland made 43.9 percent of its shots...The Cavs fired 35 three-pointers, making 14 -- nine coming from James and Williams...West tallied seven points for the Cavs...Miller added 10 points and five boards for the Bulls.