After sitting out seven games, Luol Deng returned to the Bulls (20-6) starting lineup and his presence -- along with a mostly pro-Bulls contingent filling the Bradley Center helped fuel them to a 113-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks (10-13).
The game was nothing short of outright domination of their Central Division rivals as the Bulls shot 14 of 30 from the three-point range, controlled the boards, outrebounding Milwaukee 53 to 39 and gave their home town fans that made the drive a show.
Rose led four Bulls who scored in double figures with 26 points to go along with 13 assists and seven rebounds.
Kyle Korver scored 18 points off the bench, knocking down four of his eight three-point attempts. Joakim Noah contributed 14 points and nine rebounds, and in his return, Deng finished with 21 points and nine rebounds in 41 minutes.
Rose set the tone early, scoring 16 of the teams first 18 points nailing three three-pointers in the process totaling the Bucks first quarter output as Chicagos hot shooting put the game out of reach in the first half as Chicago pushed to a 67 to 43 cushion in the first half.
Derrick remembers things, said Korver. The last time we played Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings really went at him in the first quarter and Derrick, he looks for anything and he really wanted to attack.
I thought the crowd tonight was amazing, he continued. It was like a college crowd, it was rowdy, for all for us. A couple of guys hit shots and it kinds of snowballs and then everyones playing with confidence. I thought the ball moved really well, we made the extra pass all night and its just fun basketball.
The Bulls shot 62 percent in the opening half, going 9 of 13 on threes.
I was just taking what they were giving me, said Rose. They were giving me my shot and I was taking it. Thank God, tonight, they were going in.
With the lessons learned in past games of putting a team away when theyre down, Chicago didnt have to apply to hard of pressure on the accelerator in the second half as the hole for Milwaukee was too big to dig themselves out of.
Deng played the entire second half, unti Tom Thibodeau pulled him along with Noah, Rose and Korver at the 1:35 mark of the fourth.
He was great, cant say enough about him, said Thibodeau about Deng. He stays in great shape, got out there and did everything; played defense, rebounded the ball, made shots, made plays, made us function well as a team, moved great without the ball ,so very encouraging.
After admitting to being a bit hesitant to start the game, Deng found a rhythm in the second quarter, scoring eight points.
I felt a little hesitant, I was worried about getting a bump and falling in the beginning of the game and I kind of missed those layups, but I took the hit in the fourth quarter so just keep that in my mind that the wrist is fine.
Im going to feel it. As the game goes on, I forgot about it. I was cautious at the start of the game. As the game went on, just playing basketball, I didnt even think about it until I fell in the fourth quarter.
The true test for Deng will be to see how the wrist responds in the morning;
I thought he was aggressive, wasnt shying away from contact and he was rebounding the ball in traffic and the big thing is, well see how he feels tomorrow. In terms of how he was in the game, he said he felt great so thats a very encouraging sign.