Michael Perez/AP/Press Association Images Carlos Boozer walks back to the bench at the end of the second half of Game 4.

NBA wrap: injury has Bulls heading for early exit

Philadelphia, Miami, Boston and LA are each just one win away from reaching round two of the playoffs.

THE TOP SEEDED Chicago Bulls are on the verge of an early playoffs exit after they lost to the 76ers 89-82 in Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Bulls now trail the 76ers 3-1 in their best-of-seven first-round series and are one loss away from post-season elimination after recording the equal-best win-loss record (50-16) during the regular season.

The absence of reigning MVP Derrick Rose (knee) and centre Joakim Noah (ankle) proved too hard to overcome for the Bulls as Spencer Hawes (22 points, eight rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (20, eight and six assists) guided Philadelphia to the brink of their first Eastern Conference semi-finals appearance in nine years.

With his team leading by one point (74-73) with just over four minute remaining, Holiday drained consecutive trebles to extend the margin to seven and the Bulls were unable to regain the ascendancy from that point.

Carlos Boozer (23 points, 11 rebounds) was the standout for the visitors and he was ably assisted by CJ Watson (17, six).

Chicago will fight to keep their season alive in Game Five at the United Center on Tuesday.

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The New York Knicks avoided the ignominy of suffering a playoff series sweep when they beat the Miami Heat 89-87 in Game Four at Madison Square Garden.

Dwyane Wade missed a three-point chance with 2.4 seconds left in the game that would have won the match for Miami.

The result saw the Knicks break a 13-game playoff losing streak that dated back to 2001.

Carmelo Anthony was the star of the show with 41 points and Amar’e Stoudemire (20, 10 rebounds) had an immediate impact upon his return to the team after cutting his hand when he punched a glass fire extinguisher case following the Knicks’ Game Two loss.

LeBron James (27 points), Wade (22) and Chris Bosh (17, nine rebounds) were the best for Miami who relinquished an 11-point lead early in the third quarter.

The Los Angeles Lakers went 3-1 up in their series against the Denver Nuggets after overturning a three-quarter time deficit to win Game Four 92-88 at the Pepsi Center.

Kobe Bryant was dominant with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists and was one of six Lakers to rack up double digits in the points column.
Danilo Gallinari was the best for the Nuggets with 20 points and six rebounds.

And in Sunday’s other game, the Boston Celtics smashed the Atlanta Hawks 101-79 to move one win away from making their fifth consecutive Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Paul Pierce scored a game-high 24 points for the Celtics, while point guard Rajon Rondo netted 20 points and had 16 assists.

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