Playing without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls still cruised past the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.
Their next game likely will be much more difficult, especially if their star point guard is unable to play again.
Luol Deng had 19 points, Joakim Noah scored a season-high 18 and the Chicago Bulls overcame Rose’s absence to beat Toronto 96-80 for their first road win of the season.
Noah was 7 for 10 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line. He also had nine rebounds and three assists.
”He looked great tonight,” teammate Carlos Boozer said. ”From the opening tip he was aggressive, attacking the boards. As he’s getting his rhythm back, he’s looking better and better.”
Deng also had nine rebounds as Chicago earned its third consecutive win. Kirk Hinrich started in place of Rose and scored 12 points, helping the Bulls improve to 1-3 away from home.
”I thought Kirk did a great job of running the team, had a very balanced scoring attack,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
”With Derrick out, we know we have to play a certain way, and we need everybody,” Thibodeau added.
Boozer said the Bulls have ”ultimate confidence” in Hinrich, who started much of last season while Rose was recovering from left knee surgery.
”Kirk’s a great player, man,” Boozer said. ”He’s underrated. He does a great job running our team, gets us in our sets. He hit some big shots in the third and fourth quarter for us, too.”
Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, was sidelined by a right hamstring injury that knocked him out in the fourth quarter of Monday’s home win over Cleveland. He will be re-evaluated before Chicago hosts 9-0 Indiana on Saturday.
”We can’t feel too good about ourselves, we know how good Indiana is,” Thibodeau said. ”We’re going to have to play tough tomorrow night.”
Hinrich said he was looking forward to a rematch with the Pacers, who beat the Bulls 97-80 in Indianapolis on Nov. 6.
”It’ll be a great test,” Hinrich said. ”They’re playing as good as anybody in the league right now.”
The Bulls (4-6) never trailed while defeating Toronto for the first time in three meetings. They have held their opponent to 81 points or fewer in each of their four victories this season.
Boozer and Jimmy Butler had 14 points apiece for Chicago, which avoided its first 0-4 road start in five seasons. The Bulls had lost at Philadelphia, Miami and Indiana before winning north of the border.
”It was a good road win,” Boozer said.
DeMar DeRozan matched his career high with 37 points and Rudy Gay had 20 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors lost for the fifth time in seven games. No other Toronto player reached double figures.
Even DeRozan’s performance was little consolation to frustrated Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
”There’s nothing redeeming about tonight,” Casey said, calling it a ”stinker.”
DeRozan connected on 10 of his 13 field-goal attempts in the second half and finished with four 3-pointers, one shy of his career best.
”Some of those shots DeRozan made I thought were defended well,” Thibodeau said. ”He got the hot hand and he made some big shots.”
Deng scored nine points in the first and Boozer had eight as Chicago took a 27-16 lead after one. The Raptors made just six of 22 field-goal attempts in the opening quarter.
Toronto’s shooting was even worse in the second, with the Raptors hitting on five of 21 attempts. Taj Gibson scored six points for Chicago as the Bulls carried a 45-31 lead into halftime.
Hinrich, Deng and Butler each made 3-pointers as the Bulls made it 60-35 by opening the second half with a 15-4 run, forcing Toronto to call timeout at 6:57. Chicago led 74-54 after three.
Notes: This was the first in a stretch of six of seven at home for Toronto. The Raptors entered play Friday tied with Cleveland and Washington with an NBA-high six road games. … The Bulls outrebounded the Raptors 48-43. … Saturday’s game against Indiana marks Chicago’s first back-to-back this season.