The Chicago Bulls labored to a fifth straight win, 86-81, in winning their fifth straight before heading off for six consecutive road games.
The Bulls were up by five for most of the final few minutes, leading 76-71 with just over three minutes to play. Down five Charlotte drew a foul on Luol Deng after good work on the offensive glass by Josh McRoberts and Gerald Henderson, cutting the lead to three.
The teams exchanged buckets one the ensuing five possessions, the Cats hitting back-to-back three pointers to pull within one, 82-81. Rose, despite a poor shooting night, came up with two crucial buckets either side of the Cats’ threes. The first a trademark floater off glass, the second the kind of flying, contorting layup that saw him win an MVP award two seasons ago.
Deng was the savior for Chicago, nailing a huge three-pointer with 28 seconds left to play and the shot-clock winding down to send Chicago up by four before Rose closed it out with free-throws.
The two late field goals will help varnish another disappointing effort from Rose who shot 4-13 from the floor including 1-5 from deep. He had appeared to carry over his hot shooting from distance as he made his first shot from behind the arc only to go 0-4 the rest of the way.
It wasn’t just Rose that found efficient scoring a chore Monday night, the Bulls as a team shot just 36 percent. Joakim Noah shot 4-11 and Kirk Hinrich 1-5, though the worst offender was the Bulls most consistent player so far this season, who needed 17 shots to get 14 points. Boozer though, gets a small reprieve for hauling in a game-high 17 rebounds. Nobody else in the game reached double figures.
The Bulls led early in the first quarter before a 14-point second quarter allowed Charlotte to haul them in and take the lead before the end of the first half.
Kemba Walker was held to a paltry 3-14 shooting for 8 points with the Bobcats leaning heavily on a 20-point performance from Jeff Taylor off the bench. Taylor was one of only three players on the Cats to shoot better than 50 percent as they failed to break down the Bulls defense, settling for heavily contested outside shots. They did find success in the second half, finding players open in the corners for threes and getting out in transition, capitalizing on the Bulls’ 16 turnovers to keep the game close down the stretch.
Next up, the Bobcats host the struggling Brooklyn Nets while the Bulls take off on their annual “Circus Trip” of six consecutive road games across the Western Conference, kicking off in Denver on Thursday night.