Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Pau Gasol faced his former team for the first time, but a showdown with Kobe Bryant will have to wait.
Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls routed the Los Angeles Lakers 113-93 on Christmas Day.
Gasol signed with the Bulls during the offseason after spending his previous six-plus seasons with the Lakers, winning a pair of NBA titles.
"It was weird, difficult at first to get going," Gasol admitted. "Once you start playing, you're just playing the best game you can."
The 36-year-old Bryant cited "old age" and "sore knees" as his reasons for sitting out Thursday night's game against Chicago during a pregame session with reporters.
"The team is struggling right now and it's difficult to see him struggle," Gasol said of Bryant and the Lakers. "The game in LA will probably be a little more emotional than this one."
Gasol will return to Staples Center to play the Lakers on Jan. 29.
Jimmy Butler posted 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Derrick Rose added 20 points and six assists for Chicago, which has won five straight and eight of its last nine games.
Wesley Johnson supplied 19 points and nine boards and Ed Davis provided 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who have dropped four of their last five contests.
Butler's turnaround fadeaway in the waning seconds of the first half staked Chicago to a 58-47 halftime advantage, but an 11-2 Lakers run to start the second half got them within a basket. Jordan Hill had six points during the surge, which was capped on a Johnson layup to trim the margin to 60-58.
The Bulls pulled away during the latter stages of the third and early portion of the fourth with an 11-3 burst. Taj Gibson split a pair of foul shots to finish off the swing and give the Bulls a 92-80 spread.
Chicago cruised to the easy win from there.
Earlier, the Bulls led 27-24 following a quarter of play and outscored LA 31-23 in the second.
It was also the first game for Carlos Boozer in a Lakers uniform playing against his former team. Boozer, who was claimed off waivers by the Lakers in July, had played the previous four seasons for Chicago. He had 14 points off the bench.
"At some point you have to put the emotions and feelings aside, go out there and win a basketball game," Boozer said. "They came in waves."
Gasol signed a three-year, $22 million contract with Chicago during the offseason ... It would've been Bryant's NBA-record 16th Christmas Day game had he suited up. He came in averaging 30.4 points over his last nine Christmas games ... LA turned the ball over just four times, but was outrebounded 57-39.