So much for the Bulls' offense being impotent without Derrick Rose on the floor.
Carlos Boozer scored 26 of his 31 points before halftime, and CJ Watson was literally perfect for the first three quarters as the Bulls put up 67 first-half points in a 118-97 rout of Phoenix Tuesday night.
Watson played all but six minutes of the first three quarters and hit all seven of his shots- including a pair of threes- and all four of his free throws for 20 points on a ridiculous 114.2% true shooting percentage. He also had four rebounds, five assists and two steals- with no turnovers.
Watson finished the night with 23 points filling in for Rose, who sat out a second consecutive game to rest up his sprained big toe. Rip Hamilton, who had missed the last eight games with a groin injury, stepped right back into the starting lineup and put up a solid 11 points to go with a team-high six assists (with no turnovers).
Luol Deng only played 27 minutes, but he had a very nice game with 15 points on 4/9 shooting, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Like Rip, Deng didn't commit a turnover either.
Joakim Noah had a nice active double-double with 13 points on 6/10 shooting and 12 rebounds (6 offensive). Let's hope this was a step towards Jo finding his game, the Bulls aren't going to beat the Heat in the playoffs without Noah coming up big in the series.
Even Omer Asik came off the bench to score 11 points on 5/6 shooting, but to be honest there wasn't a lot of defense being played in the fourth quarter of this game. And he had two of the Bulls' season-low six turnovers on the night.
The Suns came into the UC on a four-game losing streak, and they didn't put up much of a fight in this one. They hit four of their first six shots for an 11-10 lead four minutes into the game, but the Bulls promptly went on a 9-0 run over the next two minutes and Phoenix never seriously challenged the Bulls after that.
The Bulls led 39-31 after the first quarter, and Boozer took over in the second. He hit 6/7 shots and both of his free throws to pace the Bulls to a 67-47 halftime lead.
This is the Boozer the Bulls and their fans had yet to see this season- he scored on jumpers, drives and nice passes around the basket. The Suns don't play a lot of defense, but Boozer still looked outstanding- it's hard to say how much of that was bad defense and how much of it was Rip Hamilton coming back.
Hamilton totally changes the Bulls offense when he is in the game, his mid-range game isn't as automatic as it used to be, but he is such a smart player that he just knows where to be on the court. His passing tonight was top-notch, and even though it's still early in the season, the Bulls offense looks twice as good when Hamilton plays.
The Bulls offensive rating was over 113 in the five games Rip had played coming into tonight's game, and this romp certainly had to help that number.
I hope Bulls fans are all excited to see Rip back- again it's still early, but he might just be the tonic the Bulls need to get past Miami in late May.
Steve Nash is still Steve Nash- he had 25 points on 10/13 shooting, including 3/3 from behind the arc. He just doesn't have any help outside of Marcin Gortat (14 points on 5/7 FG and 15 rebounds)- Grant Hill is old, Channing Frye has been garbage so far this season, and Jared Dudley just isn't that good.
Their bench is horrible, and with the Bulls not playing in Phoenix this season because of the abbreviated schedule, tonight was probably the last time the Bulls will see Nash in a Suns uniform. Phoenix's front office just has to hope right now that some team will have a PG get injured or play horribly and really need a replacement, if not they can't even get much in return if they decide to trade Nash.
The Bulls are now 13-3 with two badly needed days off coming up next. They will be back in action Friday at Cleveland- I am hoping to have a special Cavs' guest on Bullsville Radio that day, but I don't want to jinx it by saying who it is just yet.