CLEVELAND -- Byron Scott's lineup changes had the Cleveland Cavaliers on the verge of a much-needed victory -- until Derrick Rose made the biggest play of the night.
Rose scored 29 points, including a three-point play that put Chicago ahead for good with 19.6 seconds to go, and the Bulls beat Cleveland 88-83 on Wednesday to hand the Cavaliers their sixth straight loss.
The losing streak matches Cleveland's longest since it dropped six in a row from Nov. 28 to Dec. 8, 2007.
Scott shuffled his lineup in an effort to stop the skid, but the Cavaliers fell short.
At the moment, the Cavs are looking for any type of small victory, even if it means coming close on the scoreboard. Cleveland's previous five losses were by an average of 22 points, after which Scott questioned his team's effort.
"We played hard for 48 minutes," the coach said Wednesday night. "If we play hard like that, I can live with that."
Thanks primarily to Rose, who scored nine points in the fourth quarter, the effort didn't pay off with a win.
Anderson Varejao's free throw gave Cleveland an 83-82 lead with 26.2 seconds to play. Following a timeout, Rose drove into the lane, was fouled by Mo Williams and made the layup, putting the Bulls ahead.
"I was just trying to be aggressive," Rose said. "He was on me close, I drove and I got a call. I have confidence in my game where if they are backing up on me I will shoot. If they are on me, I came into this league because of driving [to the basket]."
Rose's free throw made it 85-83 and Cleveland called timeout.
"Derrick is a blur," Scott said. "He lulls you to sleep and goes right by you."
Williams missed a jumper from the corner and Daniel Gibson's rebound shot rimmed out. Joakim Noah was fouled and made both free throws with 6.2 seconds to play.
Luol Deng and Noah had 13 points apiece for Chicago, which has won three straight. Still, Rose didn't feel like celebrating.
"I still can't eat right now because of the way we played," he said. "My stomach is messed up with just the thought of us losing that game. It hurts. We can't accept that, the way we played. We played terrible. I am really thankful to get this win."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau also found fault with his team despite the win.
"I didn't like us offensively," he said. "I thought we played a low-energy game. This was one of those games where you're struggling at different times, but there was a lot of fight at the end to do whatever we had to do to get the win."
Antawn Jamison, one of the players moved into a starting role, scored 21 to lead Cleveland. Although he was happy about the change, he realizes the bottom line is all that matters.
"The most important thing was trying to get a win," he said. "At crunch time we weren't able to finish the game."
Jamison, who has also questioned the team's effort, saw improvement in that area.
"I felt even though we didn't execute greatly for 48 minutes, the effort was there," he said. "That's what you need. You have to give that energy and effort to put yourself in a position to win games. I think we did that. It's tough to say you're satisfied with that, but I'll take that."
Thanks to a snowstorm that hit the area and snarled downtown traffic, several Cavaliers players got to the arena later than usual. All showed up before tip-off. Chicago's team bus was also struck in traffic, even though the Bulls' hotel was located only a couple of miles from Quicken Loans Arena. The arena, which seats 20,000, was approximately half full.
Varejao scored 17 points for Cleveland while Gibson, also moved into the starting lineup, had 14.
Kyle Korver scored 12 points, all in the fourth quarter, for the Bulls.
Scott benched forwards J.J. Hickson, who played only 9 minutes, and Joey Graham while starting Jamison at one forward spot and Gibson at shooting guard. Anthony Parker was moved from shooting guard to small forward.
F Carlos Boozer, who scored 54 points in his previous two games, had four for Chicago. ... The Bulls host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. ... Cavaliers G Ramon Sessions, who has been averaging almost 23 minutes a game, didn't play. ... Graham, who had started the last several games, also saw no action. ... F Jamario Moon, who has been starting most of the season, was inactive.