Tom Thibodeau said before Monday night’s contest against the Milwaukee Bucks that new faces would need to step up as the team battled injury. Still, it was the familiar faces that did the early legwork in the Bulls’ 105-84 win in front of 21,203 at the United Center.
Derrick Rose scored 24 points in 28 minutes in the win, Carlos Boozer put together his best outing of the preseason with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Marquis Teague, manning the second unit in place of Kirk Hinrich, played well with 12 points and four assists in 23 minutes.
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Jimmy Butler (knee), Kirk Hinrich (concussion symptoms) and Joakim Noah (groin) all missed Monday night’s game, but the Bulls’ talent and depth proved to be too much for a Bucks team with 11 newcomers and one missing starters Ersan Ilyosova (ankle) and OJ Mayo (personal).
Rose, who scored 32 points in the Bulls’ win over Indiana on Friday, wasted no time getting Chicago going early, scoring six quick points and handing out three assists to give the Bulls a 13-2 lead. Rose was everywhere in the quarter, finding Luol Deng in transition for a dunk, draining an uncontested 3-pointer from the right wing and driving the left side of the lane for an up-and-under layup that pushed the lead to 25-10, their biggest of the quarter. The Bucks closed the quarter on a 9-4 run behind John Henson (11 points, 8 rebounds) and Brandon Knight (13 points, 2 assists).
Thibodeau’s second unit got off to a slow start in the second quarter, but Marquis Teague’s jumper got things going and turned into a 7-0 run. Teague continued to play well in a backup role, scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting in the quarter. Thibodeau used Rose and Teague together midway through the second quarter.
Gibson and Knight had to be separated midway through the second quarter after Knight pushed Gibson following a box out. The two were assessed double technical fouls but were seen laughing off the scuffle after officials went to video review and made the call.
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The Bucks again closed the quarter well, this time with Larry Sanders (12 points, 4 rebounds) doing the work inside to cut the Bulls lead down to 18 inside three minutes, but Rose continued his dominance with a layup and assist to Mike Dunleavy for a 3-pointer of successive possessions in the final 90 seconds. The Bulls took a 62-39 lead into the half, led by Rose’s 17 points. Gary Neal, starting in place of Mayo and Sanders each added eight apiece before intermission.
The Bulls opened the second half the same way they finished the first, this with a little added emphasis. Off a steal, Mike Dunleavy went behind-the-back to a streaking Gibson, who finished with a one-handed slam to push the Bulls’ lead to 24, 68-44. It was one of many pretty passes on the night from the Bulls, who finished with 23 assists on 35 made baskets, good for a 65.7 assist rate. A Dunleavy three-point play the next trip down gave the Bulls their biggest lead of the game at 27, 71-44. Later in the quarter Rose connected on his second 3-pointer of the evening to give the Bulls a 30-point lead, and giving him 24 for the game. All five starters scored in double digits for the Bulls.
Leading by 29 to open the fourth quarter, Thibodeau went deep into his bunch the majority of the quarter, using primarily Teague, Dunleavy, Snell, Murphy and Mohammed. Snell had a nifty three-point play on a fast break and Teague distributed the ball well, despite not having any assists to show for it in the final stanza. Dexter Pittman, fighting for a roster spot, entered the game for Mohammed with five minutes to play.
With the win the Bulls move to 6-0 in the preseason and will have two days off in between games, when they travel to Wichita to face Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.