Another day in 2014, another Bulls victory, as seven double-figure scorers highlighted Saturday night’s 103-97 triumph over the Bobcats at the United Center, the team’s fifth straight win, keeping them undefeated in the calendar year.
Without the services of starting shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who missed the contest with a left-thigh injury suffered Friday, Duke products Mike Dunleavy Jr. (17 points, six rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (12 points, 10 rebounds, three steals) led the way in the opening period, as the starting forward duo built upon solid individual offensive outings from the previous evening win in Milwaukee.
While another former Blue Devil, Bobcats swingman Gerald Henderson Jr. (30 points), also fared well, the Bulls held a 24-15 advantage after a quarter of play.
The reserve tandem of floor general D.J. Augustin (20 points, 12 assists) and big man Taj Gibson (12 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots) provided their usual boost in the second frame, and with newly-acquired swingman Cartier Martin (11 points) also contributing, the Bulls’ lead surged to double digits. At the intermission, the Bulls maintained a 52-42 lead.
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After the break, Charlotte mounted a comeback, as big man Al Jefferson (20 points, 11 rebounds) and scoring point guard Kemba Walker (27 points) each made their respective presences felt in the third quarter. Despite Bulls like Kirk Hinrich (12 points, five assists) making an impact as a scorer and All-Star center Joakim Noah’s (19 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) work on the interior, the game was knotted up at 70 apiece heading into the final stanza.
The Bulls managed to acquire some breathing room in the fourth quarter, as their balanced offense, with Noah and Augustin shouldering the burden, was able to fend off Charlotte’s charge. Martin, signed to a 10-day contract Friday—he was in uniform for the Bulls’ win over the Bucks, but didn’t play in the contest—appeared to fit in seamlessly and helped the home team again push their winning margin to double digits heading into the game’s stretch run.
The Bulls cruised late, perhaps too much, as the Bobcats continued to play hard and actually cut it to a five-point deficit with under a minute remaining, turning it into a free-throw contest before holding on for the win.