Published January 20, 2012
CLEVELAND – Luol Deng scored 21 points, Carlos Boozer added 19 and 14 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls managed easily without superstar Derrick Rose, embarrassing the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-75 on Friday night.
Rose missed his third straight game with a strained left big toe, but the Bulls barely missed the NBA's reigning MVP and handed the Cavs their worst home loss. Cleveland lost by 35 at home in 1990 and 2001.
Chicago, which has the league's best record at 14-3, led by 42 points in the fourth quarter when all the Bulls' starters were lounging in sweats.
Anderson Varejao scored 14 points and rookie Kyrie Irving added 13 for the Cavs, who began a challenging stretch. Eight of Cleveland's next nine games are against playoff teams from last season.
All of the Bulls chipped in to inflict historic damage on the Cavs.
C.J. Watson started for Rose and scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, when the Bulls took an energetic Cleveland crowd out of it. Richard Hamilton scored 13 points and Joakim Noah had 10 rebounds.
With 8 minutes left, Chicago's starters were all kicking back on the bench and watching the reserves destroy Cleveland's backups. Kyle Korver scored 14 points in the final 12 minutes, and even seldom-used Brian Scalabrine added four points to the delight of some Bulls fans on hand.
Rose's injury has gotten better in recent days, but it's still not good enough to get him back on the floor.
"He doesn't feel he's ready to go yet," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The doctors said it's a sprain. Turf toe is a pretty wide umbrella. My understanding is the difference between the sprain and turf toe is the turf toe is underneath the toe. Derrick was face down when he got hit so it was on the top of the toe, which made it a sprain."
This was a good day to rest it.
The Bulls toyed with the Cavs, who were trying to get to .500 but got a firsthand look at how far they'll need to climb to catch up to the East's best team.
Chicago's depth and talent were on display — shock and awe.
"Here's the thing about our team: We have more than enough to win with," Thibodeau said.
The Cavaliers prepared for the game as if Rose would play. His name was the first listed on the dry-erase board in Cleveland's locker room with the word "aggressive" scribbled next to it.
But when word came from down the hallway before tipoff that Rose would sit, Cavs coach Byron Scott let out a sigh of relief.
"My prayers were answered," he cracked.
Not all of them, though.
Not only did the Bulls hardly miss their top player, for a long stretch of the first half, they hardly missed at all.
Chicago shot 59 percent from the floor in the first 24 minutes, opening a 19-point lead at the break. The Bulls pushed it to 30 late in the third quarter, sending Cleveland's fans for the exits.
Watson, who scored a season-high 23 on Tuesday night in a rout of Phoenix, had 11 points and five assists before Thibodeau took him out early in the second quarter. His replacement, John Lucas III, came in and heated up quickly, scoring nine points in 6 minutes as the Bulls flexed their muscles.
The Cavs found themselves in a quick hole, making four turnovers and falling behind 13-5.
But Irving turned things around briefly by himself. He scored seven straight points and made his third consecutive 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 16-15 lead.
From there on, it was a stampede by the Bulls.
Notes: Chicago has won seven straight over Cleveland. ... The Bulls play their next four at home, starting Saturday against Charlotte. However, there was no guarantee they would get to Chicago in time with snow pounding the Windy City and headed for Cleveland. Any delay won't sit well with Noah, who grumbled about Cleveland's lack of downtown activity when the Bulls faced the Cavs in the playoffs two years ago. ... Bulls G Taj Gibson sprained his ankle in the first half and did not return.