CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — No Derrick Rose? No problem.
Joakim Noah had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Carlos Boozer scored 16 points and the Chicago Bulls throttled the Charlotte Bobcats 95-64 Friday night despite the absence of their leading scorer and reigning league MVP.
The Bulls (23-6) won their fifth straight overall and improved to 5-1 this season without Rose, who sat out because of a lower back strain.
Derrick Brown scored 10 points to lead the NBA-worst Bobcats, who shot 33 percent and lost their 13th straight game to fall to 3-23. Brown was the only Bobcats player to finish in double figures.
Corey Maggette returned to action after missing the last 19 games with a strained hamstring and had four points on 2-of-7 shooting in 14 minutes.
The Bulls led by 22 points at halftime before pouring it on in the third quarter, pounding the ball inside to Noah and Boozer, who seemingly scored at will against a Bobcats frontcourt lacking in size and experience. That’s been a persistent problem all season for the Bobcats since they allowed center Kwame Brown to leave via free agency.
Noah was dominant inside, hitting 7 of 9 shots as the Bulls’ lead hovered around 30 for most of the second half.
Rose injured his back earlier in the week and was limited in a 90-67 win over New Orleans on Wednesday. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose would be a game-time decision against the Bobcats and decided to hold him out after watching him in warm-ups.
Clearly the Bulls didn’t need him.
C.J. Watson started in Rose’s place and had seven points and five assists. All-Star selection Luol Deng scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter, including a pair of key 3-pointers, to set the tempo for the Bulls. John Lucas III added 11 points and Omer Asik had 12 rebounds.
Prior to the game, Bobcats coach Paul Silas called the Bulls the most talented team in the league and they certainly left no doubt about this one early on. The Bulls held the Bobcats to 31 percent shooting in the first quarter, and Charlotte never mounted a rally after falling behind 30-16.
The Bobcats even struggled from the free throw line with both Gana Diop and Bismack Biyombo shooting air balls from the stripe, drawing a mixture of chuckles and head-shaking disgust from the home crowd on NASCAR night.
NOTES: The road only gets tougher for the Bobcats, who’ll face the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers in their next two games at home. … Bobcats owner Michael Jordan was sitting courtside for Friday night’s game but did not return for the second half. … Chicago scored 27 points off 16 turnovers.
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