After getting demolished at home by the defending-champion Heat a night before, the Bulls (32-23) bounced back in glorious fashion, trouncing the woeful Bobcats (13-42), 105-75, Friday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Bulls played exemplary defense, holding Charlotte to 33.3 percent field-goal shooting, limited their turnovers to just six miscues after committing 27 Thursday in Chicago and placed eight players—including all five starters—in double figures on a season-high 37 assists for a wire-to-wire win.
Playing with greater focus on both ends of the floor, the Bulls built a slim cushion in the early going against the lowly Bobcats, in an attempt to redeem themselves for their performance the previous evening.
[WATCH: Highlights: Bulls rout Bobcats]
Rip Hamilton (10 points) and All-Star Center Joakim Noah (10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) got off to quick starts for the visitors, who were much more efficient on the offensive end and took care of the ball better than they have as of late, even after fill-in starter Nate Robinson (12 points)—veteran Kirk Hinrich missed the contest with a right-elbow injury—exited the game with two quick fouls, giving way to rookie point guard Marquis Teague.
Playing unselfishly, the Bulls also got the forward duo of Duke products Carlos Boozer (10 points, 10 rebounds) and All-Star Luol Deng (14 points) involved in the action, as they took a double-digit advantage, though the hosts eventually narrowed the gap.
Teague’s ability to create off the dribble sparked the visitors toward the end of the frame and at the conclusion of the opening period, the Bulls held a 24-15 advantage.
The Bulls’ lead ballooned at the outset of the second quarter, as their stifling brand of defense—Charlotte shot 30 percent in the first quarter, a number that subsequently plummeted—and precise offensive execution gave the home team fits.
With lifts off the bench from reserves Taj Gibson (17 points) and Marco Belinelli (12 points), the Bulls controlled the action, seemingly being able to get defensive stops at will on one end of the court, then manufacture excellent scoring opportunities on the other, particularly on the interior.
Aside from the shot-blocking prowess of second-year center Bismack Biyombo (12 rebounds) and the scoring ability of the young backcourt tandem of shoot-first point guard Kemba Walker (27 points) and athletic swingman Gerald Henderson, almost nothing went right for Charlotte, which had team owner and Bulls legend Michael Jordan watching from the end of its bench, just days after his 50th birthday.
At the intermission of the slow-moving affair, the Bulls led, 51-37, and showed no signs of relinquishing control of the contest.
Things remained the same after the break, as Robinson, who struggled with his shot in the first half—the diminutive scorer missed his first five attempts from the field—got the hot hand, giving the visitors even more offensive balance.
Even as the Bulls’ edge reached a 20-point winning margin, they continued to stay disciplined on offense--particularly despite their once-gaudy shooting percentage slightly dropping and while Walker was effective for the Bobcats, the hosts simply had no answers for their guests.
Heading into the final stanza, the Bulls possessed a 78-57 lead, with no indication that anything would be different in the fourth quarter.
Gibson propelled the Bulls in the early portion of the period, showcasing his mid-range jumper, then gave way to second-year swingman Jimmy Butler (12 points), who took his turn in leading the visitors’ scoring attack with a series of successful drives to the rim and trips to the charity stripe.
Midway through the frame, even a hard-nosed type like Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau—who finally sat down when he was assured that the game was truly in hand—realized when enough was enough, as he inserted seldom-used backup center Nazr Mohammed, a former Bobcat, into the contest.
The extended garbage time didn’t change the situation, as the Bulls cruised to inevitable victory, with a day off before taking on another formidable foe, the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, Sunday in Oklahoma City.