Rose scores 30 to lead Bulls over Magic 101-93

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CHICAGO (AP)—Derrick Rose(notes) made a statement and issued a warning.

If there are any doubts about his ankle, forget it. And if anyone wants to count out the Chicago Bulls, forget that, too.

“If we continue to play this way, good things are going to happen for us,” Rose said.

Like this.

Rose scored 30 points and the Bulls beat the Orlando Magic 101-93 on Saturday night for their season-high fourth straight win.

For all the speculation about coach Vinny Del Negro’s job status, the Bulls are playing their best ball of the season—and so is Rose, who finished two points shy of a career high he set against Atlanta last month.

Slowed by an ankle injury early on, he started the new year on the right foot after averaging just over 20 points in December.

“I was just trying to attack,” he said. “I’ve told you that I’d do anything to help my team win, and that’s what I was doing out there tonight.”

Rose scored the final six points of a 20-2 run spanning the second and third quarters that gave Chicago a 13-point lead, and he hit two free throws with 24.5 seconds left in the game to make it 98-93 after J.J. Redick(notes) hit a 3-pointer to pull Orlando within three.

The Magic called time, but Matt Barnes(notes) missed a lean-in 3-point attempt, and Jameer Nelson(notes) clanged another from beyond the arc. Ryan Anderson(notes) then had another shot from long range rim out with seven seconds left off an inbound pass, and the Bulls hung on from there.

“We just didn’t have the fire we needed to compete against a team like this,” Barnes said. “They play on a lot of emotion and a lot of Adrenalin and a lot of hustle. They beat us to all the loose balls.”

Barnes did his best to keep Orlando in it, scoring 15 of his season-high 23 points in the third quarter. Anderson added 12, including a 3 that pulled the Magic to 90-85 with just over three minutes left, but the stars were all but invisible as the Magic fell for the fourth time in five road games.

Dwight Howard(notes) managed just nine points and 12 rebounds against Joakim Noah(notes) after being held in check the previous night in a win at Minnesota. Rashard Lewis(notes) scored seven points, Vince Carter(notes) made only 3 of 15 shots in an eight-point effort and sprained his left ankle on a drive with 5:55 left, while Jameer Nelson scored all of his 10 in the second half.

Nelson’s slow start came after a 16-point performance against the Timberwolves that eased some concerns after his surgically repaired left knee swelled up following a Christmas Day loss to Boston.

Chicago’s star is hard to miss these days. The reigning Rookie of the Year, Rose is back to his explosive self now that the right ankle he injured in the preseason is healed.

“He’s a totally different player,” Taj Gibson(notes) said. “He’s looking to get everybody involved. He’s taking his shots well. He’s taking over the game sometimes when we need him to. Everybody’s clicking right now.”

John Salmons(notes) scored 15, Luol Deng(notes) added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Gibson scored 10 while pulling down 12 boards.

Chicago trailed 48-43 when Deng buried a 9-footer with just under two minutes remaining in the first half to start their big run that stretched into the third quarter. His runner with a minute left after a wild miss by Rose gave Chicago a 49-48 lead—its first lead since the opening minute—and Salmons buried a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to make it a four-point game at the half.

Kirk Hinrich(notes) started the third quarter with a 3 and Deng added a layup. Nelson hit a short jumper for the Magic, his first points of the night, but Rose responded with three jumpers to make it 63-50.

“He attacked us,” Nelson said. “Attack, attack, attack. He’s strong, fast and he was knocking down the jumpshot tonight. When he’s knocking down the jumpshots, he’s really tough.”

NOTES: Carter expects to play Tuesday at Indiana. … The Bulls made their first 17 free throws and were 24 of 27 in all. … Chicago had not won four in a row since it took five straight last April 4-13.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Orlando
M. Barnes Matt Barnes
7-14,  23 Pts
4 Rebs, 3 Assists
 Chicago
D. Rose Derrick Rose
11-23,  30 Pts
6 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
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Saturday, Jan 2