|Cavaliers lead series 2-1|
|Cavaliers lead series 2-1|
CHICAGO — LeBron James and the Cavaliers can forget about sweeping the Bulls out of the playoffs.
Derrick Rose scored 31, Kirk Hinrich added 27 and Chicago hung to beat top-seeded Cleveland 108-106 Thursday night in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series after watching a 21-point lead dwindle to one.
James scored 13 of his 39 in the fourth quarter but also committed some turnovers down the stretch. Even so, the Cavaliers were within 107-106 after Mo Williams nailed a 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left.
They immediately fouled Chicago's Luol Deng, who hit the first free throw but missed the second. Cleveland's Anthony Parker got the rebound and raced up the right side but missed a 3 at the buzzer, and the Bulls escaped with the win.
Hinrich, a career 80.9 percent free-throw shooter, missed two with 26 seconds left and the Bulls up 104-99.
James then buried a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining to make it a two-point game. The Cavaliers immediately fouled Rose, who missed the first free throw before converting the second to make it 105-102 with 10.1 seconds left.
Chicago fouled Anderson Varejao to prevent a 3-point shot, and he made the first but missed the second. Brad Miller got the rebound and converted both free throws to make it a four-point game, and the Bulls hung on after a few more twists.
The Bulls appeared to be in good shape up 21 in the third, only to see the Cavaliers cut their deficit to 94-92 on a pair of free throws and a layup by Antawn Jamison with 4:10 remaining in the game.
Deng, who scored 20, then made a jumper, and former Gator Joakim Noah stole a pass from James. That led to a jumper by Rose, who then buried a fadeaway as the crowd chanted "Let's go Bulls!" to make it 100-92 with 2:42 remaining.
James also charged into Deng with 1:18 remaining and the Bulls up by six, then got stripped by Noah, who finished with a game-high 15 rebounds. Deng picked up the loose ball, and Hinrich hit two free throws to make it 104-96 with 38 seconds remaining.
Several times the Bulls looked as if they might run away with this one.
They were leading 39-23 early in the second after a three-point play by Deng capped an 18-5 run that started in the first, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, and they finished the half with a flourish after Cleveland pulled within seven.
Miller hit a 19-footer with a minute left, and Hinrich nailed 20-footer from the wing to make it 56-45 before Noah blocked a driving layup by James in the closing seconds.
The Bulls continued to pour it on in the third.
CLEVELAND (106): James 14-26 7-13 39, Jamison 7-17 4-4 19, O'Neal 2-8 2-2 6, M.Williams 7-16 2-5 21, Parker 2-7 2-3 8, West 3-5 0-0 7, Varejao 0-1 3-4 3, Moon 1-2 0-0 3, Ilgauskas 0-0 0-0 0, Hickson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-82 20-31 106.
CHICAGO (108): Deng 9-16 2-3 20, T.Gibson 4-12 0-0 8, Noah 3-7 4-4 10, Rose 13-26 4-6 31, Hinrich 9-12 5-8 27, Miller 3-6 4-4 10, Murray 1-5 0-0 2, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-84 19-25 108.
Cleveland 21 24 23 38— 106
Chicago 32 24 23 29— 108
3-Point Goals—Cleveland 14-35 (M.Williams 5-11, James 4-8, Parker 2-6, Moon 1-2, West 1-2, Jamison 1-6), Chicago 5-12 (Hinrich 4-4, Rose 1-2, Miller 0-1, Murray 0-2, Deng 0-3). Fouled Out—Varejao. Rebounds—Cleveland 53 (Jamison 11), Chicago 52 (Noah 15). Assists—Cleveland 21 (James 8), Chicago 22 (Rose 7). Total Fouls—Cleveland 24, Chicago 22. Technicals—T.Gibson. A—22,991 (20,917).
more Cavaliers: The trial of guard Delonte West on misdemeanor weapons charges has been postponed until July 21. It had been scheduled to start Monday; West's lawyer asked for the postponement. Authorities say West was carrying two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun and an 81/2-inch Bowie knife while riding a three-wheel motorcycle on the Capital Beltway in Maryland in September. Police say he was pulled over after cutting off an officer.
Magic-Bobcats: The league fined Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy and forward Matt Barnes $35,000 each for publicly criticizing officials. Van Gundy and Barnes said after the Magic won Game 2 of the East series Wednesday that they were not happy with the way officials called the game on center Dwight Howard. Howard was in foul trouble in the first two games.
Celtics-Heat: The league fined Boston forward Rasheed Wallace $35,000 for criticizing game officials to the media a day before the Celtics won Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in the East series. Wallace sounded off about picking up two quick fouls in Game 1. This is the third time Wallace has been fined this season for criticizing officials. His season fine total is $100,000.
Hawks-Bucks: When Atlanta forward Josh Smith was asked what he planned to do in Milwaukee when the East series shifted there for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, he said "Everybody knows there ain't nothing to do in Milwaukee" and he would "just be happy to find a restaurant."
Nuggets-Jazz: Denver forward Kenyon Martin missed practice to rest the balky left knee that caused him to miss 18 games late in the regular season. The team said his availability for tonight's Game 3 of their West series will be determined at game time.
Most improved player award: Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks won after setting career highs in points (19.6 per game), assists (5.3) and rebounds (2.6). His scoring average went up 8.4 points from 2008-09, the highest increase of any qualifying player. Brooks ably picked up the offensive slack in the seasonlong absence of injured center Yao Ming, starting all 82 games. "This is … one of the most important awards I've earned in my life," Brooks said.