Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler combined for 55 points as the Chicago Bulls rebounded from one of their worst defensive losses in recent memory with a 104-98 win over Oklahoma City Thursday.

Rose and Butler outshone the Thunders’ dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as two of the NBA’s top ranked teams squared off for the first time this season.

The Bulls allowed the Thunder to tie the score three times down the stretch, but each time Chicago was able to re-take the lead before holding them off in a thrilling finish.

“This was big,” Butler said. “Derrick’s a helluva player. He carried us. That’s what leaders do. That’s what MVPs do.”

Rose sealed the victory by scoring 10 of his team’s final 12 points in the fourth quarter. Chicago was coming off an embarrassing 130-105 road loss to Charlotte on Tuesday.

Durant led all scorers with 33 points and Westbrook had 20 points and 10 assists for the Thunder, who have dropped three straight games after winning their first three contests of the season.

Trailing 90-84 with 6:04 left in the fourth, Westbrook and Durant combined to score six straight points to tie it 90-90.

But Rose made sure the Thunder were kept in check. He buried four jump shots and hit a pair of free throws in the final 3:35 of the game.

Forward Pau Gasol finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Aaron Brooks and forward Taj Gibson each scored nine points for the Bulls.

The Bulls led 57-50 at the half thanks to a big second-quarter effort.

They erased a three-point deficit in the first 4:39 of the second with an impressive 15-4 run sparked by a balanced attack. Brooks and Gibson each contributed five points. Butler and Rose did the rest.

– Hornets halt losing skid –

Center Al Jefferson scored a season-high 31 points as the Charlotte Hornets halted a Texas-size losing streak by routing the host Dallas Mavericks 108-94.

The Hornets had lost their last 14 games in Dallas, a stretch going back to 1998 when the Mavericks played out of their old barn, Reunion Arena. 

– Heat beat Timberwolves –

Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 25 points, and teammate Goran Dragic added 18 as the Miami Heat upstaged the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-84 at Target Center. The Heat held the Timberwolves to 35.3 percent shooting for the game. Miami shot 48.7 from the floor and 18-for-25 from the free-throw line. 

“Whenever you win on the road it is always gratifying” said Wade. – Agence France-Presse

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