Derrick Rose returned from a one-game absence to score 25 points and help the Chicago Bulls hold off a second-half charge to beat the Boston Celtics 88-79 on Friday night.
The Celtics had trimmed a 52-33 halftime deficit to 67-66 on a 3-pointer by Mickael Pietrus with 10 minutes left in the game. Then Boston missed its next two shots, while Rose scored four straight points. Kevin Garnett responded with a short jumper, but Rose came through again with a 3-pointer for a 74-68 lead with 7:30 remaining.
Rose, who missed Wednesday's 78-64 win over the Washington Wizards with a sprained left big toe, scored 12 points after Boston cut the lead to one. Luol Deng had 21 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago and Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer scored 12 each.
Ray Allen scored 16 for Boston and Rajon Rondo had 14 points and 11 assists.
Chicago improved its NBA-best record to 11-2 with its 10th win in 11 games. Boston lost its third straight, all at home, and fell to 4-6.
The Bulls dominated early and led by their biggest margin of the first half, 19 points, at intermission. They outshot the Celtics 54.1 percent to 33.3 and outrebounded them 31-15.
They stretched the lead to 61-41 on a Deng's jumper from the top of the key with 7:20 left in the third quarter. Then the Celtics finally came to life, outscoring the Bulls 18-6 to close the gap to 67-59 after three quarters. It was 67-53 with two minutes left before Jermaine O'Neal and Rondo scored on layups and O'Neal made a slam dunk on a feed from Allen.
The Celtics kept rolling by scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter on Garnett's short turnaround, Allen's 12-foot bank shot and the 3-pointer by Pietrus that made it 67-66.
Boozer then missed the next shot. But Boston's Paul Pierce, who missed nine of his 12 shots, misfired and the Bulls scored on Rose's layup that made it 69-66 with 9:02 to go. After another Celtics' miss, Rose sank two free throws.
Boston still had a chance at 80-74, but Brewer and Rose fit one field goal each, building the lead to 84-73 with 2:10 remaining.