Kyle Korver came up big down the stretch to finish with 19 points, Derrick Rose scored 15 and the Chicago Bulls closed the regular season with their ninth straight win, beating the New Jersey Nets 97-92 on Wednesday.
The top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls had to wait to see if they would get home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They were tied with San Antonio for the league's best record when the night began, and if the Spurs beat Phoenix, a random drawing would decide the overall No. 1 seed.
The Bulls led by as much as 13 in the second quarter and were up seven at the half, but found themselves trailing 68-58 after the Nets scored 15 straight midway through the third. They responded by scoring 10 in a row to close the period and pulled this one out in the end, with Korver scoring seven in the final four minutes.
Rasual Butler scored 10, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Bulls got 55 points from their bench on a night when the starters spent much of the fourth quarter on the bench.
Rose was just 5 of 13 from the field. Luol Deng scored 11. Joakim Noah finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Bulls finished 62-20, equaling their best showing since the 1997-98 championship season. That also put Tom Thibodeau in a tie with Paul Westphal for the most wins by a first-year coach.
The Nets got 21 points and 12 assists from Jordan Farmar. Brook Lopez added 17 points after scoring at least 30 in four of the previous five games, and New Jersey finished the season with its 11th loss in 12 games.
The Bulls can now focus on their first-round matchup with Indiana that starts Saturday after a wild, dramatic finish to the regular season.
They were trailing 84-81 when C.J. Watson hit a 3-pointer with 5:46 left, and Korver tied it when he nailed one from the right side about 1:15 later.
Taj Gibson then rebounded Travis Outlaw's miss, and with the crowd on its feet, Butler nailed a jumper to put Chicago ahead 86-84 with 3:37 remaining.
Johan Petro tied it with a jumper after a shot by Farmar hit the side of the backboard, but Korver struck again, burying another jumper to make it 88-86 with just under three minutes left.
Two free throws by Farmar with 1:33 remaining knotted it at 88 before Chicago's Gibson hit 1 of 2 11 seconds later. Lopez hit a short bank shot, but Butler brought the crowd to its feet when he buried a corner 3 in front of the New Jersey bench, putting the Bulls back on top 92-90 with 46 seconds remaining.
Kurt Thomas then blocked a driving Lopez, and Watson hit the second of two free throws with 22.8 seconds left to make it a three-point game.
After a timeout, Farmar missed a 3 from the right wing. Gibson got the rebound and hit both free throws to make it 95-90. Farmar immediately drove past Rose to pull the Nets within three with 11.8 seconds left, but Korver hit two free throws to preserve the win.