CHICAGO (AP)–Carlos Boozer scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the injury-depleted Chicago Bulls to a 95-89 win over the struggling Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.
Luol Deng added 22 points and eight rebounds as the Bulls won their seventh straight at home and improved to an NBA-best 15-3 despite the absence of two starters and two key reserves. Richard Hamilton added a season-high 18 points for Chicago.
The Bulls played their fourth straight game without reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose (sprained left big toe). They also were missing starting center Joakim Noah, a late scratch because of a left ankle sprain.
Gerald Henderson Jr. led Charlotte with 22 points, but the Bobcats lost their fifth consecutive road game. They have dropped nine of 10 overall.
Byron Mullens added 17 points for Charlotte.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau likes to talk up his team’s depth and Saturday’s game gave him plenty to discuss.
In addition to the missing starters, reserves Taj Gibson (left ankle sprain) and John Lucas III (left groin strain) also sat out. The Bulls had plenty of firepower left on the roster.
Omer Asik started in place of Noah and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Veteran Mike James took Lucas’ place as the backup point guard and had seven points and a team-high nine assists, his most since Dec. 27, 2008.
C.J. Watson started for Rose at point guard and had 11 points and nine assists. Watson is averaging 16.5 points and six assists in his last four games after missing nine games because of an elbow injury.
Charlotte started undersized point guards D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker together in the backcourt for the fourth straight game, but the quick lineup struggled against Chicago’s defense, which leads the league in fewest points allowed per game.
Walker scored just four points, Augustin had three and neither player was on the floor down the stretch.
The bright spot for Charlotte was Henderson, who is averaging 21.8 points on 32-of-55 shooting in his last four games since moving from shooting guard to small forward in coach Paul Silas’ lineup.
Chicago forced five Charlotte turnovers as the Bulls built a seven-point first-quarter lead, but the Bobcats hung close behind Mullens’ 10-point quarter.
The Bobcats edged ahead in the second quarter against Chicago’s depleted second unit, but Deng led a late-quarter Bulls charge with nine points over the last 6:50 of the half.
Deng’s putback dunk off a missed 3 by Kyle Korver capped an 11-2 Bulls run to end the half. Chicago led 50-43 at the break.
The Bulls pushed their lead to 11 in third quarter as Boozer scored 15 points and Hamilton added 10, which offset the 13-point period from Henderson.
NOTES: The Bulls have won 33 of their last 35 home games. . The Bulls are 7-0 at the United Center for the first time since 1996-97. . Bobcats forward D.J. White left with a bruised left knee during the second quarter and did not return.
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