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In brief: Bulls defeat Celtics, close in on No. 1 spot

Chicago’s Luol Deng drives to the basket against Boston’s Jermaine O’Neal during Thursday’s home win for the Bulls. (Associated Press)
Chicago’s Luol Deng drives to the basket against Boston’s Jermaine O’Neal during Thursday’s home win for the Bulls. (Associated Press)

NBA: Derrick Rose scored 30 points and the Chicago Bulls closed in on the top seed in the Eastern Conference by beating the visiting Boston Celtics 97-81 on Thursday.

The Bulls’ 17th win in 19 games put them four games up on Boston and Miami with four to play and eliminated the Heat from getting the No. 1 seed.

The Celtics still have a mathematical shot albeit a remote one. But barring a collapse, Chicago will be the top seed in the East.

It’s another step for a team that expected big things after a major overhaul, and all the Bulls have done is deliver their best season since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen made championship celebrations a regular event.

Blazers take over sixth spot: Gerald Wallace scored 29 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers over the Utah Jazz 98-87 at Salt Lake City.

The win moved Portland (46-33) into sole possession of the sixth spot in the Western Conference.

Dallas stays in hunt by beating Colorado

NHL: Loui Eriksson and Brad Richards each had a goal and an assist, and Dallas remained in the playoff race with a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in the Stars’ home finale.

The Stars drew even in points with Calgary for the No. 9 slot in the West, but Calgary has been eliminated with one game left because of tiebreakers. Dallas is two points behind Chicago and Anaheim for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

Thrashers hurt Rangers’ chances: Rob Schremp and Andrew Ladd scored 15 seconds apart in the second period, Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves and the visiting Atlanta Thrashers delivered a crushing blow to the New York Rangers’ playoff hopes with a 3-0 win.

Now with only one game left in the regular season – a home matchup against division rival New Jersey on Saturday – the Rangers no longer hold their playoff fate in their hands.

Duluth, Michigan make title game

Men’s hockey: J.T. Brown had a goal and an assist to lead Minnesota Duluth to a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame (25-14-5) in the semifinals of the Frozen Four at St. Paul, Minn., propelling the Bulldogs to their second national title game in school history.

The Bulldogs (25-10-6) will meet Michigan in Saturday’s championship. Ben Winnett’s first-period goal gave Michigan an early edge and Shawn Hunwick made 40 saves for his fourth shutout this season, leading the Wolverines (29-10-4) to a 2-0 victory over North Dakota (32-9-3) in the second semifinal.

Jury must decide Bonds’ fate at trial

Steroids: The eight women and four men sat in the jury box for more than 41/2 hours, listening to angry arguments from federal prosecutors and Barry Bonds’ attorneys at the end of a 12-day trial in San Francisco that exposed the dark world of baseball’s Steroids Era.

Now, Bonds’ fate is up to them.

After listening to tawdry accusations of drug use, theft and body parts that grew (Bonds’ head) and shrank (his testicles), the 12-member panel gets to decide whether the home run king will become a convicted felon.

Bonds’ trial on charges he lied to a grand jury more than seven years ago when he denied knowingly using performance- enhancing drugs ended with closing arguments from both sides that were filled with virulence.

Leg injury stalls Premier Pegasus

Horse racing: The future of Premier Pegasus on the Triple Crown trail is in doubt because of a leg injury that has knocked the colt out of Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby at Arcadia, Calif.

He was the 8-5 favorite on the morning line in the $1 million prep for next month’s Kentucky Derby.

Premier Pegasus won the San Felipe Stakes by a record 73/4 lengths last month, and has four wins in five career races with earnings of $293,400.

Golf change aimed at avoiding DQs

Golf: In a change directed at scorecards and television viewers, golf revised one of its rules so that players who learn of a violation after they sign their cards can be penalized without being disqualified.

The Royal & Ancient and USGA announced the new interpretation an hour before the Masters. It is effective immediately.