In a drama-filled game, Rose looked like the former MVP, scoring 30 points, with seven rebounds and seven assists as the Bulls took control of the series.
Both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the first half. The Bulls shot 34.6 percent from the field and the Cavaliers weren't much better, hitting just 42.9 percent of their shots to take a 49-47 lead at halftime.
Tensions flared in the second half. LeBron James and Joakim Noah traded words early in the third quarter, and the intensity remained high for the remainder of the game. The teams traded leads and buckets, and after three quarters the Bulls led, 74-73.
Rose was the story of the second half. After scoring just six points in the first half, he went off for 24 in the final two quarters. Even with his heroics, however, the Bulls needed several others step up.
With the game was tied at 91 with 2:24 to play, the teams traded free-throw attempts until Jimmy Butler hit a twisting layup to give the Bulls a 94-93 lead with 42 seconds remaining. Two Taj Gibson free throws gave the Bulls a 96-93 lead with 24 seconds to go, but J.R. Smith -- no longer suspended -- hit a three to tie the game once again with 10 seconds left.
Smith's shot gave Rose an opportunity to be the hero.
It was a dagger for the Cavaliers, who almost pulled out a win despite a poor shooting performance from both James and Kyrie Irving. The two combined to hit just 11-of-38 of their shots. Irving struggled in particular. He only took two shots in the first half and couldn't buy a bucket in the fourth quarter. He ended up with 11 points and had zero assists. Despite the tough night, James still had 27 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds.
On Sunday, the Bulls will have an opportunity to put James and the Cavaliers on the brink of elimination. They could finally get that elusive series win over a James-led squad.
3 things we learned
The Los Angeles Clippers are in control. They used a 23-0 run at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth to pull away to a 124-99 win over the Rockets and take a 2-1 series lead. Chris Paul returned to the court, but it was J.J. Redick and Austin Rivers who made the difference. Redick had 31 points and Rivers added 25 -- 16 of which came during that 23-0 run to put the game away. Paul has played a total of 23 minutes in this series and the Clippers are up 2-1. Aside from the second half of Game 2, the Rockets haven't found a way to contain the Clippers' offense. The Clips are scoring at will even when Paul is on the bench. And now that he's back for the rest of the series, Houston is in serious trouble.
Harden and the Rockets don't have much of an answer for the Clippers' defense. The Clippers are known for their offense, but they've managed to hold the Rockets at bay on the defensive end, too. Harden had 25 points and 11 assists, but he never got into a rhythm against the Clippers. He has the ability to take over a game, but the swarming defense of Matt Barnes and Redick, along with the big bodies of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin down low, are affecting Harden's game.
Not that he got much help on Friday. Even before the Clippers went on that run, the Rockets were struggling to stay in the game. And then once the run started, they gave in. The Clippers were outhustling the Rockets at every turn Friday. The Rockets have until Sunday to figure it out, or else they'll be heading back to Houston facing a 3-1 deficit.
The Bulls still really want to beat LeBron James. The Bulls have been eliminated by a James-led team three times. If they can win Game 4 at home Sunday, they'll be one game away from finally eliminating him. They need to be ready for James to bring his best. After struggling in Game 1, James dropped 33 points in Game 2. The Bulls should expect a similar effort Sunday.
They will hope that James continues to struggle from the floor. He was 10-of-26 in Game 3, and, despite the win, he was only 13-of-29 in Game 2. If James can't hit shots, the Bulls have a good chance of going back to Cleveland with a 3-1 lead.
Play of the night
We can watch that again, right?