CHICAGO(AP) Ben Gordon got his shot going from the outside and Derrick Rose spent most of the night driving to the basket.
The result was a 117-102 victory for the Chicago Bulls over the Milwaukee Bucks and sole possession of eighth place in the East.
"Everybody around here is happy and we don't want to go back down, so we are going to fight for it,'' Rose said after matching a career high with 27 points.
Gordon had 21 of his points in the first half, including 15 in the second quarter when the Bulls threatened to blow the game open with a 38-26 advantage.
"We did a great job of getting out in transition and making the right plays,'' said Gordon, who finished with 34 points. "Everytime we got a rebound or a steal, it seemed like almost every time we converted.''
But even though they had a 16-point lead in the second quarter, the Bulls couldn't put it away until a fourth-quarter spurt after the Bucks had pulled within three.
"We're digging ourselves way too big a hole,'' Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "Our guys were jogging back on transition in the first half and Ben Gordon got hot and there wasn't much we could do after that.''
Chicago's victory gave the Bulls the season series 3-1 against their former coach and the Bucks. Milwaukee entered with a percentage point-lead over the Bulls.
John Salmons added had 21 points for Chicago.
Richard Jefferson led the Bucks with 27 points, Luc Mbah a Moute added a career-high 21 with 11 boards and Ramon Sessions had 20 points and 11 assists. Charlie Villanueva had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
"We used up a lot of energy to try and get it to three,'' Jefferson said. "They know our offense very well and they know Coach Skiles and his schemes. They're always a tough team for us to play.''
Villanueva's tip-in of his own miss cut it to three to open the fourth, but Chicago appeared to regain control with eight straight points, including two baskets by Salmons, one after a nifty pass from Brad Miller. That built the lead back to 11.
Gordon cut off a mini-run by Milwaukee with a three-point play for a 100-90 lead. Gordon then made two free throws and, after picking up a loose ball, fed Salmons for a layup that made it a 13-point lead with just under four minutes left.
"This was a big game tonight. We came out and played really well and now we want to approach these 19 (final) games like we did tonight,'' Gordon said. "They are all playoff games. We just have to worry about how we're playing and can't worry about how anybody else is doing.''
With Jefferson and Villanueva on the bench for a stretch in the second quarter, Gordon got into a rhythm. He hit a floater for a basket and then made two straight 3-pointers as an 11-4 run opened up a 41-32 lead for Chicago. After a timeout, Gordon was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Luke Ridnour and made all two of three to extend the lead to 11 points.
Gordon's fourth 3-pointer of the half came at the end of another 11-4 spurt and the Bulls had a 57-41 lead with three and a half minutes left before the break.
Notes: Bulls F Luol Deng sat out his third straight game with a possible stress fracture in his right leg. ... Skiles said before the game he likes his team's chances of making the playoffs, despite the loss of Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut. One reason is the Bucks' heavy schedule of home games the rest of the way. Milwaukee plays on the road only six times over its final 17 games. ... Ridnour hurt his right thumb early in the fourth quarter after he was bumped and didn't return to the game. He broke the thumb last month. ... Bulls G Kirk Hinrich suffered a bruise inside his knee, coach Vinny Del Negro said.