NBA: Bulls work chemistry heading into playoffs
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said injuries throughout the season had left his preferred starting unit of Rose, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah needing more playing time together.
Some other playoff-bound teams were opting to rest their stars on the penultimate night of the lockout-shortened regular season.
"We still need to find some rhythm with guys," Thibodeau said. "They need some time together."
Deng played 33 minutes and Rose, who has been sidelined for 26 games, played 26 minutes and said he welcomed the opportunity.
"I love playing games, getting my rhythm back," Rose said. "I'm coming along, man. I'm very positive. My spirits are up."
The Bulls lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals last season after posting the league's best record.
Thibodeau, therefore, was low-key on the importance of holding the top seed in the East.
"It's the next step along the way," he said. "You try to put as many things in your favor as possible. It's not the end-all. It doesn't guarantee anything. But I think it also gives you your best chance."
In New York, the Knicks held off the charging Los Angeles Clippers 99-93, denying the Clippers a chance to claim home court advantage over Memphis in the first round of the playoffs.
J.R. Smith came off the bench and scored 21 points with five assists for New York, who led 90-72 with eight minutes remaining but saw the Clippers storm back to slice the deficit to one point.
Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points and Steve Novak added 15 as half a dozen New York players scored in double figures.
But the Knicks still have work to do when the regular season concludes on Thursday.
Philadelphia's 90-85 victory over Milwaukee meant the Knicks need a victory over hapless Charlotte on Thursday to secure seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
Orlando, led by J.J. Redick's 31 points, downed Charlotte 102-95 on Wednesday to book the sixth seed in the East.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, fell to 7-58 and need to beat the Knicks on Thursday to avoid the worst record by winning percentage in league history.
Orlando close the regular season against Memphis on Thursday, and a Magic win would give the Clippers home court advantage in their opening round against the Grizzlies.
Denver's 106-101 victory over Oklahoma City ensured the Nuggets will not be the eighth seeds in the West.
San Antonio, with the top seed in the West locked up, opted to rest stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
"It's doesn't make any sense to play them," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News, saying the chance that San Antonio's playoff campaign could start as early as Saturday persuaded him to rest the trio.
San Antonio still managed to beat Phoenix 110-106.