Suns allow 118 points in loss to Bulls
CHICAGO (AP) -- As it turned out, the Chicago Bulls didn't need Derrick Rose against the Phoenix Suns.
Carlos Boozer scored 26 of his season-high 31 points in the first half, leading the short-handed Bulls to a 118-97 win over the Suns on Tuesday night.
Boozer hit 12 of 15 shots in the opening half and scored eight points during a 12-point burst that opened up a 20-point lead for Chicago, which was playing without Rose -- the reigning league MVP -- for the second straight game because of a sprained left big toe.
Chicago was coming off its worst loss of the season, a 102-86 setback at Memphis on Monday that ended a five-game winning streak, but bounced back with contributions up and down the roster.
"We came out with a great sense of focus," Boozer said. "For us, we wanted to get back out there and play after playing so poorly last night."
The Bulls improved to 6-0 at home for the first time since 1996-97, though they allowed more than 74 points to an opponent for the first time at home this season. Chicago has won its home games by an average of 19 points this season.
"I thought it was great," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We had a lot of guys play well."
Steve Nash led Phoenix with 25 points and nine assists, but the Suns allowed a fourth straight opponent to top 100 points and lost their fifth in a row.
The Suns turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 18 Chicago points.
"Turnovers hurt us," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "The big difference was we just didn't slow them down. We are not the Phoenix Suns of old. We need to slow down and guard them more closely."
C.J. Watson, playing just his second game after missing nine because of a left elbow sprain, scored a season-high 23 points, Luol Deng added 15 and Joakim Noah had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Chicago as all five starters scored in double figures.
Watson quickly took advantage of his first start of the season, scoring 13 points in the opening period.
"We know (Rose is) our best player and not having him is a big loss," Watson said. "Even when I was injured I tried to work on my shooting and keep a rhythm."
Boozer added 12 as Chicago shot 72 percent the first 12 minutes, taking a 39-31 lead and posting a season-high for points in a quarter.
"I just played off my teammates, came out aggressive, got open shots and just took them," Boozer said.
The Bulls didn't miss Rose while posting a season-high in points and totaling 31 assists while committing just six turnovers. The ball-sharing was typical for a Chicago squad that entered the game second in the NBA in total assists.
"We're a very unselfish team," Boozer said. "We had a meeting earlier this season saying guys were too unselfish and passing up open shots. We know when we have 20-plus assists we're moving the ball well and most games we have that."
Chicago pushed the ball down the floor quickly all night, outscoring Phoenix 13-11 in transition and getting a number of open looks on the secondary break.
Boozer scored 14 points in the second quarter as the Bulls took a 67-47 lead at halftime, a lofty total for a team that averaged 85.4 points in its first five home games. It was the most points the Bulls have scored in a half this season.
Chicago scored the first seven points of the second half, six by Noah, and led by as many as 28 points while cruising to the easy win.
Nash kept Phoenix close early with 13 points and six assists in the first quarter and the Suns shot 65 percent in the period.
"Nash put incredible pressure on us early," Thibodeau said. "It's amazing what he's doing at his age."
Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Suns.
NOTES: Richard Hamilton started for the first time since Jan. 4 and scored 11 points after missing the Bulls' previous eight games because of a sore left groin. He missed 10 of Chicago's last 11 games because of the injury. ... Thibodeau was celebrating his 54th birthday. When asked before the game what he wanted, he simply said, "A win." ... The Bulls have played 16 games in the first 24 days of the compressed NBA season, more than any other team in the league. They have the next two days off. . The Bulls took a 63-62 lead in the all-time series against Phoenix, which started in 1968-69. Tuesday's game was the only meeting between the clubs this season.