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Rose leads Bulls past Hawks 95-83

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose scored 33 points, Luol Deng added 23 and the Chicago Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks 95-83 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead.

Taj Gibson had 11 points -- all in the fourth quarter. Rose also scored 11 in the fourth, and the Bulls pounded the Hawks 26-15 in the quarter.

Game 6 is Thursday in Atlanta, and Chicago is one win from its first conference finals appearance since 1998, when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen wrapped up their second championship three-peat.

Rose showed why he is the league's youngest MVP, hitting 11 of 24 shots and finishing with nine assists. It was a big improvement over Game 4 when he needed 32 shots to score 34 points.

That was enough to offset another strong performance by Atlanta's Jeff Teague. Filling in for the injured Kirk Hinrich, he delivered his third 21-point game of the series.

Josh Smith scored 16 points for the Hawks, while Joe Johnson had 15 and Al Horford added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

It hasn't been an easy postseason for the Bulls after they stormed to a league-leading 62 wins. They got pushed by Indiana in the first round and are getting all they can handle from the Hawks, yet they are in a good position thanks to a strong fourth quarter.

They led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter but were trailing 70-69 early in the fourth when they went on a 9-0 run.

Rose started it when he drove to his left for a layup, fed Gibson a no-look pass in transition for a three-point play and added a layup that made it 78-70.

Then, midway through the fourth, he drove for a three-point play that made it 85-76. Fans were screeching ''MVP! MVP!'' as he buried the free throw, and after Atlanta pulled within six, Chicago reeled eight straight to make it 93-79, with six points coming from Gibson.

The late run aside, it wasn't an easy night for the Bulls.

Considering Chicago got 15 points each from Rose and Deng in the first half and led by as many as 15, the Hawks were probably glad to be trailing 48-42 at halftime. They kept coming at the Bulls in the third quarter.