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Bulls grind out another tough win; Rose comes through again for Chicago

INDIANAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose was beaten up and shaken up by Indiana's trapping defense, which was intent on shutting him down at all costs.

The Chicago Bulls guard struggled all game long and even lost his cool at times, but he still found a way to be the difference-maker. He scored 23 points, including the go-ahead layup with 17.8 seconds left, to help the Bulls beat the Pacers, 88-84, Thursday night and take a 3-0 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Rose's late basket was his only field goal in the second half. He made just 4 of 18 shots in the game as he was blanketed, and at times pummeled, by Indiana's Paul George and Dahntay Jones.

"It was a little rough out there, but it's basketball," he said. "They had something to prove."

Rose, guarded by Jones, drove left for the layup that gave the Bulls an 86-84 lead and sparked "MVP!" chants from the thousands of Bulls fans who made the 3-hour drive.

Danny Granger had a chance to give the Pacers the lead, but his 3-pointer was off, and Chicago's Ronnie Brewer rebounded. Brewer was fouled, and he made two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to put the game out of reach.

Rose missed his first eight shots of the second half, but he never hesitated when it was time to go for the lead late.

"The whole time, I was just thinking I'll go to the hole," he said.

Rose made up for his shooting difficulties by making 13 of 15 free throws. Chicago can close out the series on Saturday.

"The bottom line is we're up 3-0," Chicago forward Carlos Boozer said. "We're getting better. Our defense was much better than it was the first two games of the series, and we've got to be ready for Game Four."

Luol Deng had 21 points and Kyle Korver added 12 for the Bulls.

Granger, who led the Pacers with 21 points, said the Pacers wanted something better than the contested 26-footer that bounced off the rim with 2.2 seconds remaining.

"We didn't get the look we wanted," he said. "That was the best shot we could get. That wasn't the way we wanted it, but that was the way it happened."


Heat on verge of sweep

PHILADELPHIA -- Dwyane Wade had 32 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron James finished with 24 points and 15 boards and the Miami Heat took a 3-0 lead in their first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers with a 100-94 victory Thursday night.

James hit the court hard late in the fourth quarter and briefly sat against the scorer's table. He grimaced when his teammates pulled him up and he slowly walked back to Miami's bench.

Elton Brand had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers.


Today's games

*The Boston Celtics bring a 2-0 lead into Game Three of their Eastern Conference first-round series with the New York Knicks tonight (7 p.m., ESPN), with the Knicks knowing they were close to winning both games but also getting close to going home for the summer.

The Knicks aren't sure who will be there to help star Carmelo Anthony. Amare Stoudemire missed practice Thursday but is expected to play after he was sidelined for the second half of the Celtics' Game Two win Tuesday with back spasms.

Chauncey Billups is questionable after straining his left knee on a drive to the basket late in the opener and sitting out Game Two.

*The Atlanta Hawks have claimed home-court advantage in their series with Orlando. Now, they've got to show it's really an edge.

The Hawks won just 24 games at Philips Arena during the regular season, and there were plenty of blowouts among the 17 losses.

Game Three against the Magic is tonight (8 p.m., ESPN2).

*The New Orleans Hornets already are showing signs of making the first round of the playoffs more than a mere formality for the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, having seized home advantage with a 1-1 split of the series' first two games in Los Angeles.

Chris Paul and his upstart squad will be back home for tonight's Game Three (9:30 p.m., ESPN).

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