The Chicago Bulls continued their rapid ascent through the Eastern Conference by defeating the injury-depleted Washington Wizards 87-80 on Wednesday for their ninth victory in their last 10 games.
Forward Carlos Boozer scored 30 points and had 10 rebounds and seven assists, while third-year point guard Derrick Rose slashed through the Wizards defense to score 25 points.
The Wizards led by as many as eight in the third quarter but Chicago battled back behind Rose, who had 13 points in the frame, and led 73-70 with a period to play.
Chicago, which shot a horrid two of 16 from three-point range, opened the fourth quarter with an 8-3 run to take an 81-73 lead and the Wizards lacked the firepower to respond.
With most of the attention focused on Boston and Miami, the Bulls (18-9) have risen to the third-best record in the East and are just 1.5 games behind the second-placed Heat.
Washington, playing without injured point guard John Wall and reserve forward Yi Jianlian, failed in its bid to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
The backcourt shouldered most of the load for the Wizards, with Nick Young scoring 22 points and Kirk Hinrich adding 19 points while delivering nine assists.
Washington (7-20) failed to take advantage of the absence of Bulls center Joakim Noah, their leading rebounder, who is out of the line-up with a torn ligament in his right thumb.
Two-time All-Star forward Rashard Lewis, acquired in a trade Saturday that sent Gilbert Arenas to Orlando, scored eight points in his first game with the Wizards.