Bill Cartwright benched two of his starters in Chicago Bulls’ last game, and they won.
It’s uncertain what he’ll do when the Bulls host the Denver Nuggets at the United Center.
The Bulls suffered their fourth blowout loss of the season Friday, 106-85 to Philadelphia, in front of a booing home crowd. On Saturday, Cartwright replaced Jalen Rose and Jamal Crawford with Eddie Robinson and rookie Kirk Hinrich in the starting lineup against the New Orleans Hornets.
“That first group is not giving us anything,” he said before that game. “We’ll keep searching until we find a group that is going to get us out of the gate.”
The move appeared to work as the Bulls edged the Hornets 109-106. Much of the surge came from the new reserves—Rose and Crawford—in the fourth quarter. Averaging just 11.8 points in the first five games, Rose shot 10-of-15 and made four 3-pointers to finish with a team-high 34 points.
“I was shocked…I felt like I deserved better,” said Rose, who had started 323 consecutive games. “I shouldn’t have to go through that. This isn’t my first or second year in the league.”
Crawford also wans’t pleased with being benched.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m glad we won, but to me it’s disrespect to single out us two out of five (starters),” he said after finishing with 14 points and six assists.
Despite 25 turnovers—nine by Rose’s replacement, Hinrich—and hitting only two of their last 12 shots, the Bulls shot 59.4 percent from the field, and made 20 of 24 free throws.
After another disappointing performance on offense, Denver will try to avoid its third straight loss.
The Nuggets shot just 35 percent in a 89-76 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, missing 12 of their first 13 shots and trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter.
Andre Miller had 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Denver. He helped cut the lead to five with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists in the second quarter, but was held scoreless in the fourth.