Cavaliers handed worst home loss by Bulls
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Derrick Rose watched. The Bulls waltzed.
Luol Deng scored 21 points, Carlos Boozer added 19 and 14 rebounds, and Chicago coasted without their superstar guard, embarrassing Cleveland 114-75 on Friday and handing the Cavaliers' their most lopsided home loss in team history.
Rose missed his third straight game with a strained left big toe, but the Bulls barely missed the NBA's reigning MVP. Cleveland lost by 35 at home in 1990 and 2001.
"We know we've got to step up without him out there," Boozer said. "Everybody did a great job. Our starters played great. Our bench played great. It was one of those nights where everything was clicking like clockwork."
Chicago, which has the league's best record at 14-3, built a 42-point lead in the fourth quarter when all the Bulls' starters were lounging in sweats and getting some needed rest with four games ahead in the next seven days.
The Bulls, who set a franchise record with 16 blocks, put their depth and talent on display -- shock and awe.
"Deepest team I've ever played on, 100 percent," Boozer said. "Other than All-Star and Olympic teams, this is the deepest team. Most teams go to their bench and hold their own. We got to our bench and they can open the lead."
Anderson Varejao scored 14 points and rookie Kyrie Irving added 13 for the Cavs, who began a challenging stretch after a fairly easy schedule through the first 14 games. Eight of Cleveland's next nine opponents made the playoffs last season.
Afterward, Cavs coach Byron Scott didn't hold back when assessing his team's awful performance.
"Chicago was aggressive and physical and the more (shots) they hit, the more we took steps back," he said. "We didn't react to their physical play whatsoever -- besides the whining. You can not let a good team like they are come in and play harder, be more physical, more aggressive and expect to win or even be in the game.
"We have a long way to go. Simple as that. We have a lot of work to do."
All of the Bulls chipped in to inflict historic damage on the Cavs.
C.J. Watson started for Rose and scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, when the Bulls took an energetic Cleveland crowd looking for an upset and silenced it. Richard Hamilton scored 13 points and Joakim Noah had 10 rebounds.
With 8 minutes left, Chicago's starters were all kicking back on the bench and watching the reserves destroy Cleveland's backups. Kyle Korver scored 14 points in the final 12 minutes, and even seldom-used Brian Scalabrine added four points to the delight of some Bulls fans on hand.
Rose's injury has gotten better in recent days, but it's still not good enough to get him back on the floor.
"He doesn't feel he's ready to go yet," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The doctors said it's a sprain. My understanding is the difference between the sprain and turf toe is the turf toe is underneath the toe. Derrick was face down when he got hit so it was on the top of the toe, which made it a sprain."
This was a good day to rest it.
The Bulls toyed with the Cavs, who were trying to get to .500 but got a firsthand look at how far they'll need to climb to catch up to the East's best team.
"Here's the thing about our team: We have more than enough to win with," Thibodeau said.
The Cavaliers prepared for the game as if Rose would play. His name was the first listed on the dry-erase board in Cleveland's locker room with the word "aggressive" scribbled next to it.
But when word came from down the hallway before tipoff that Rose would sit, Scott let out a sigh of relief.
"My prayers were answered," he cracked.
Not all of them.
Not only did the Bulls hardly miss their top player, for a long stretch of the first half, they hardly missed at all.
Chicago shot 59 percent from the floor in the first 24 minutes, opening a 19-point lead at the break. The Bulls pushed it to 30 late in the third quarter, sending Cleveland's fans for the exits.
Watson, who scored a season-high 23 on Tuesday night in a rout of Phoenix, had 11 points and five assists before Thibodeau took him out early in the second quarter. His replacement, John Lucas III, came in and heated up quickly, scoring nine points in 6 minutes as the Bulls flexed their muscles.
"We're happy we're playing good basketball without our most valuable player," Noah said. "We've just got to keep it up until he's healthy. There's no reason for him to be playing hurt right now because we know in the long run we'll need him to be 100 percent."
NOTES: The Cavs' previous worst losses were 110-75 to New York on March 20,
2001, and 120-85 to Chicago on Dec. 1, 1990. ... Chicago has won seven
straight over Cleveland. ... The Bulls play their next four at home,
starting Saturday against Charlotte. However, there was no guarantee
they would get to Chicago in time with snow pounding the Windy City and
headed for Cleveland. Any delay won't sit well with Noah, who grumbled
about Cleveland's lack of downtown activity when the Bulls faced the
Cavs in the playoffs two years ago. ... Bulls G Taj Gibson sprained his
ankle in the first half and did not return.