Playing without Derrick Rose (foot) and Luol Deng (ribs) for the second consecutive game, the Chicago Bulls clobbered the Charlotte Bobcats 100-68 on Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Bulls improved to 47-15 this season, which remained the best record in the NBA.
The Bulls placed four players in double figures against the Bobcats (7-54). Rip Hamilton dropped game-highs of 22 points and six assists in an efficient 24 minutes of action. He shot 9-for-13 from the field and 4-for-5 from three-point range to go along with a plus-minus of plus-17. The veteran guard nicely built on Monday night’s 22-point effort and was on fire from the outset. Joakim Noah and John Lucas III chipped in 12 points apiece, while Carlos Boozer had 10 points. The Bulls’ starters all sat out of the fourth quarter as the team ran away with the game.
Both teams had no problem putting the ball in the basket early and were, in fact, tied at 14 5 minutes, 2 seconds into the game. However, that’s the only time the Bobcats were able to play the Bulls evenly, shot for shot, and give them much of a test. Behind strong ball movement, the Bulls took command and built a large lead as the game wore on, leading 34-20 through one quarter of play and 52-37 at halftime. Tom Thibodeau rode the “Bench Mob” for the entire second quarter and the group picked up right where the starters left off, thoroughly outplaying Charlotte.
The Bulls’ starters kept up their assault when they led by double-digit points throughout the second half. Thibodeau’s bunch did exactly what had to be done against the lowly Bobcats. All of Chicago’s starters played below 24 minutes, during which they absolutely ran the Bobcats off the court and earned fourth-quarter rest on the front end of a back-to-back set. Even though they were without their two All-Stars, in Rose and Deng, the Bulls, from the outset, exhibited the focus, energy and intensity they didn’t maintain in Monday night’s disappointing 87-84 loss to the Washington Wizards. Chicago outrebounded the Bobcats 57-38 and held them to a pathetic 29.8 percent from the field. The Bulls destroyed their foes across the stat sheet all night.
Given how hard Thibodeau pushes his team, and how much the veteran coach surely emphasized its lapses over the past week, there was no way the Bulls were going to blow this one against a Bobcats team – which was led by Kemba Walker’s 16 points – that is being compared to some of the worst in league history. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Bulls got to use a bottom-feeder to get back on track.
The bottom line for the Bulls on this night is that Hamilton continues to make strides in the right direction. The 34-year-old probably would have ended up with his second point-assist double-double of the season – the first came on Jan. 23 against the New Jersey Nets – had the game been tight down the stretch. Although his right shoulder will not be 100 percent for the rest of the season, Hamilton is proving he can produce at a high level even with the injury, and the Bulls know they will need more performances like Monday and Wednesday night if they are going to meet their high expectations.
Next up, the Bulls have a quick turnaround Thursday night when they take on the Miami Heat (43-17) at AmericanAirlines Arena.