Faced with the option of chasing the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 record in the entire league or resting in advance of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Chicago Bulls saw Derrick Rose played 37 minutes, Luol Deng play 39 and Carlos Boozer play 34 against the Orlando Magic on Sunday. That means Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls are serious about at least grabbing a share of the top record, which would lead to a random draw for home court advantage in the NBA Finals, should the Bulls and Spurs each make it.
Yes, the Chicago Bulls are playing for home court advantage in the NBA Finals and nothing else during the final week of the season. It's something amazing.
As is Rose. The presumptive MVP had a marvelous performance Sunday, scoring 39 points on 13-17 shooting in Chicago's 102-99 win. The Magic were missing Dwight Howard, who served his suspension for his 18th technical foul, but got a huge game from Ryan Anderson, one of the top per-minute producers in the league. Anderson, a stretch-4, had 28 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando.
Jameer Nelson hit a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer, but official review found the ball to be in Nelson's hands about a tenth of a second after the buzzer went off. Rose was defending. It's been that kind of season for the kid.
In other action:
Grizzlies 111, Hornets 89: New Orleans took the evening off on defense, allowing Memphis to shoot 60 percent for the game. Chris Paul was held scoreless for the first time in his career. The Blazers are now the favorites for the No. 6 seed, and the Hornets maintain a small edge for No. 7.
Mavericks 115, Suns 90: Are the Dallas Mavericks back, just in the nick of time? Big D's defense was solid, and the offense got good contributions from multiple players, including Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and Jose Barea off the bench.
Knicks 110, Pacers 109: Amar'e Stoudemire rested, but Carmelo Anthony played and dominated with 34 points. He also scored the go-ahead basket (a jumper with five seconds left) and blocked Danny Granger's final attempt. New York is quietly smoking after that awful stretch of play.
Raptors 99, Nets 92: Brook Lopez was a monster (35 points, 11 rebounds) without Deron Williams or Kris Humphries, but Toronto's well-rounded assault won out. Reggie Evans was the only T-Dot starter who didn't score at least 18.