Rose scored 26 points on 9-for-28 shooting as the Bulls beat the Mavericks 82-77 on Thursday night in a physical, grinding game.
"A win is a win," Rose said. "Everything that went on in that game was kind of terrible, except the way we played defense."
Rose, shouldering a larger-than-usual share of the offensive load in the absence of injured forward Carlos Boozer, was just 5-for-20 in the second half as he tried to spark a sluggish Chicago attack.
"Coach [Tom Thibodeau] was mad because he didn't think I was shooting enough [in the first half]," Rose said. "So I just tried to be aggressive in the second half."
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was pleased that the Mavericks made Rose work for his points.
"He scored a lot of points, but he had to take 28 shots to do it," Carlisle said. "Our guys worked hard."
Nowitzki started his fourth straight game after missing more than two weeks with a knee injury.
"Just gotta get my legs under me and just work my way back into it," Nowitzki said. "It's probably gonna take a few more games but it's improving."
After Rose's pull-up jumper gave the Bulls an 80-77 lead with 55 seconds to go, Terry missed a tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds to play. Chicago's Kyle Korver then made two free throws to seal the win.
The Mavericks were coming off a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night that snapped a six-game skid.
"After an emotional game last night, we thought we could come down the stretch and [win] in a one-possession game," Dallas' Jason Kidd. "We just couldn't knock down the shot at the end."
The Bulls tied the score at 66-all in the fourth quarter as Rose penetrated the lane in transition and hit a twisting, reverse layup.
After a timeout, Nowitzki missed a jumper and Chicago's C.J. Watson hit a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Bulls ahead. Watson added another 3 a couple of possessions later, pushing the Bulls' advantage to four points.
Dallas stayed close, but never led again.
"We'll take a win any way we can get it," Bulls center Kurt Thomas said. "The Mavericks are a great team."
The win pulled Chicago within one game of idle Miami for second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Perhaps the most remarkable statistic in the game was the fact that the normally fast-paced Bulls did not score a single fastbreak point in the game.
"That's hard to believe with Derrick Rose on the team," Thomas said. "We wanted to limit the Mavericks' possessions because they have so many weapons on the floor."
Dallas scored the only two fastbreak points in the game, and those came late in the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks shot just 29.7 percent in the opening half and were 4-for-19 from the field in the second quarter. Dallas opened the second half with a 20-8 run and held the Bulls to 12 points in the third quarter, seizing a 60-56 advantage heading into the fourth.
"When we got back in it, we did a nice job," Nowitzki said. "We didn't give up any second-chance points."
The Mavericks did allow the Bulls to grab 17 offensive rebounds, but Chicago scored just 14 points on those extra chances. Dallas scored 15 second-chance points in the game.
Foul trouble plagued the Bulls in the third quarter, with starting big men Taj Gibson and Thomas both picking up their fourth foul and finishing the period on the bench. That left it up to smaller players like Ronnie Brewer and Luol Deng to defend the 7-foot Nowitzki.
The Bulls played their third straight game without Boozer, who sprained his ankle in a win over Miami last Saturday. Gibson started again in Boozer's place and struggled, scoring four points on 2-for-7 shooting.
However, the Bulls still dominated the Mavericks in the paint, outscoring Dallas 28-16 in the lane and holding a 51-41 rebounding advantage.
Thomas, one of the league's oldest players, played 29 minutes and had nine points and 11 rebounds for Chicago. Korver also scored nine points as Rose was the only Bull to reach double figures in scoring.
Deng had seven points on 3-for-13 shooting, but led Chicago with 12 rebounds and contributed with solid defense on Nowitzki.
"That's what I love about Luol," Thibodeau said. "He can play effectively when he is not shooting well. He is always doing other things like tonight, rebounding the ball for us."
The Bulls catch a bit of a break, with a day off on Friday before a home game against Cleveland on Saturday. The Cavaliers are a league-worst 8-33 on the season and have lost 24 of 25 games.
Thibodeau said before the game that he expects Boozer to return to the lineup on Saturday. Chicago has won two of three without Boozer and is still a few weeks away from the return of injured center Joakim Noah, who had surgery on his right thumb.
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