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Rose’s career-best 42 helps Bulls beat Spurs

All-Star Derrick Rose outdueled Spurs point guard Tony Parker who had 26 points. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

All-Star Derrick Rose outdueled Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who had 26 points. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: May 26, 2011 6:15AM

Remember the Alamo?

Mindful of their trip to San Antonio last November, when they let the Spurs put together a memorable comeback attack, the Bulls were determined not to let the defense rest Thursday night.

With Rose scoring a career-high 42 points amid chants of ‘‘MVP,’’ they achieved their goal. In what some wide-eyed Chicago fans were viewing as an NBA Finals preview, the Bulls headed to the All-Star break on a high note, beating San Antonio 109-99.

‘‘I was just trying to do whatever it takes to win,’’ said Rose, who scored the Bulls’ last 10 points. ‘‘If it led to me shooting the ball, thank God the shots were falling tonight.’’

‘‘Wow!’’ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ‘‘What do you want me to say? Good-looking kid, great demeanor, doesn’t beat his chest. Class act on top of his phenomenal play. All those qualities are going to serve him well.’’

After reminding everyone that this game only counts as one win, even the circumspect Tom Thibodeau joined the chorus casting their MVP votes for Rose.

‘‘I can’t imagine anyone doing more, not only individually but for our team,’’ the Bulls coach said. ‘‘And the team winning is more important to him than any individual stuff. But he certainly, in my eyes, has earned it.’’

It was only the 10th loss for the Spurs (46-10). The Bulls, who improved to 25-4 at home, will have a few days off after adding another bit of evidence that Boston and Miami, the teams they’re chasing for the best record in the Eastern Conference, had better watch out.

The statement in this statement game?

‘‘That we’re playing ball,’’ Rose said. ‘‘We’re playing defense, we’re making it tough on people and we’re playing together. We get up when we play [elite] teams.’’

With Joakim Noah expected to be back from thumb surgery in their next game, at Toronto on Wednesday, the Bulls figure to be even better equipped for a strong finish.

In the end, the game’s marquee matchup was no contest. Tony Parker (26 points and four assists) was solid. But Rose added another bullet point to his MVP resumé, delivering eight assists and five timely rebounds along with 18-for-28 shooting.

Luol Deng (19 points, seven rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (15 and six) also had big nights for the Bulls. San Antonio got 14 points from Tim Duncan and 16 from Manu Ginobili, who shot a meager 6-for-18.

‘‘They couldn’t really stop [Rose],’’ Boozer said. ‘‘I told him, ‘Keep attacking till they stop you.’ He’s been playing phenomenal all season. All we had to do was jump on his back and ride the D-Rose train.’’

In the shadows of the Alamo last Nov. 17, the Bulls opened a 17-point lead three minutes before halftime but wilted defensively when the Spurs put their multifaceted attack to work.

The goal was not to allow a repeat of that in this rematch.

Nursing an 83-78 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Bulls gave themselves some breathing room with a combination of good defensive stops and an energetic 9-0 run.

‘‘Obviously, the scoring was key,’’ Boozer said. ‘‘But our defense was key, too — getting stops on the other side so they couldn’t come back.’’

When San Antonio closed to 99-90, Rose answered with a buzzer-beating jumper and a ball-on-the-hip hang-time drive. Three more Rose baskets, and the NBA’s winningest team went home a loser.

No wonder they left saying, ‘‘Wow!’’

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