A misfiring Derrick Rose forced the Chicago Bulls to rely on their bench but they still managed a 96-86 overtime win over the Miami Heat on Thursday to stay in the driving seat in the race for the Eastern Conference title.
Rose scored a career-low two points on one-for-13 shooting and did not feature late in the fourth quarter or in overtime but the Bulls still seized a four-game lead over Miami with just seven games to play.
LeBron James scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade had 21 but they could not take advantage of Chicago (45-14) playing with a vulnerable Rose.
The reigning NBA MVP has played in just two of Chicago's last 15 games due to injury and clearly his time off has left him a step slow.
"I'm not worried about my stats. I'm just trying to get my rhythm to get ready for the playoffs, get my timing back," Rose told reporters. "My shots were not falling, but my team mates had my back."
C.J. Watson scored 16 of Chicago's 47 points from their reserves and made a game-tying three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
"I tried to make a play on (the shot), going from guarding (Richard Hamilton) in one corner," said Wade, of the pivotal play. "He made a tough shot. We never recovered from that shot."
Wade missed a potential game-winner at the end of regulation and the visitors managed just two points in a lopsided overtime.
Miami (40-17) led by 10 in the third but the Bulls ended the quarter with a 10-2 run and it turned into a back and forth grudge match from there.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Nick Mulvenney)