CLEVELAND — The Bulls went without Derrick Rose for a third straight game on Friday and they won their second straight despite that. Chicago rolled the Cavaliers by 39 points when all was said and done and the offensive explosion is very comforting to see without Rose.
The reigning MVP has been out since Monday with what is now being called a sprain, an injury he suffered last Tuesday in Minnesota.
But it was the Bulls next All-Star player Luol Deng who stole the show yet again without Rose on the hardwood. Deng continued his All-Star campaign with 21 points and 8 rebounds hitting 8 of his 13 shots.
“We know we’ve got to step up without him out there,” Carlos 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.”
Boozer contributed again with 19 points and 14 rebounds, something that Bulls fans would like to get used to but can’t let themselves just yet. Boozer has been wildly inconsistent but has put in two solid performances and may finally be stepping up on a regular basis.
But the season is still young. Forgive me if I’m not trusting Boozer to catch me when I fall.
But besides Boozer and Deng, the Bulls showed something that was criticized in the past few days: depth. Every single Bulls played five or more minutes and all scored at least a field goal with the notable exceptions of Taj Gibson and the rookie Jimmy Butler. It was the the Bench Mob who contributed greatly to what was at one point a 42-point lead for the Bulls.
Kyle Korver took over as general with C.J. Watson penciled into the starting role in place of Rose. Korver finished with 14 points and even the White Mamba Brian Scalabrine scored 4 points and played 8 minutes.
“Here’s the thing about our team,” Head Coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We have more than enough to win with.”
This settles a growing debate about the depth of the Bulls, an issue that was raised in Monday’s blowout loss to the Grizzlies. In that game the Bench Mob scored 37 points. Since then they have posted 63 points with 38 of those coming Friday night in Cleveland.
Chicago has made their record without Rose 3-1 and they did it in furious fashion. They had a franchise record 16 blocks in the game, a metaphor directed at those who believe they aren’t competitive without Rose.
“We’re happy we’re playing good basketball without our most valuable player,” Joakim Noah said. “We’ve just got to keep it up until he’s healthy.