CHICAGO, (Reuters) – The Chicago Bulls withstood a late run by the Cleveland Cavaliers to pull off a 108-106 victory on Thursday and reduce their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series deficit to 2-1.
Mo Williams’s three-pointer brought the Cavaliers within one with three seconds left, and after Chicago made a free throw, Cleveland’s Anthony Parker missed a half-court heave at the buzzer to win the game.
In the Western Conference, Oklahoma City captured their first franchise playoff win with a triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Phoenix Suns took control of their series with a 108-89 blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
In Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 31 points for the Bulls, who squandered a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter as LeBron James scored 13 of his 39 points in the final period to lead a furious fightback by the Cavaliers.
“We helped them out by missing some free throws,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro told reporters. “We had to gut it out, and our guys made some plays. We needed Kirk (Hinrich) to play well for us and he had a monster game for us.”
The Bulls had built an 11-point advantage after the first quarter, which they extended to 21 points during the third before Cleveland rallied, finishing with a total of 14 three-pointers to stay close.
Hinrich added 27 points for Chicago.
“Giving up 108 points is not our M.O. (modus operandi),” James said. “(Allowing) Fifty percent shooting is not our M.O.
They are doing a good job exploiting what we are doing defensively.”
In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant shook off poor shooting form to record 29 points and 19 rebounds as the Thunder defeated the defending champion Lakers 101-96.
Russell Westbrook added 27 points and eight rebounds as Oklahoma City cut their series deficit to 2-1.
In Portland, the Suns took a 2-1 series lead behind a playoff career-high 42 points from Jason Richardson.