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Boozer, Bulls bulldoze Cavs

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Carlos Boozer recorded his fifth straight double-double, and the Chicago Bulls continued their recent dominance of the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 118-92 victory Monday at the United Center.

Boozer finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds as Chicago pulled away in the second half. The Bulls posted their 11th straight victory over the Cavaliers, with five of the past six wins coming by 26 points or more.

"I'm just playing off my teammates," Boozer said. "We're trying to step it up a little bit and get some more wins. We had a tough last couple of weeks of 2012. New Year, we got a couple new resolutions, and the biggest one is get more wins."

The Bulls finished the calendar year by losing at home on Dec. 31 to the Charlotte Bobcats, who snapped an 18-game losing streak. Since then, Chicago has won three in a row, sweeping a two-game trip to Orlando and Miami, then handling Cleveland with ease.

Oddly enough, Chicago started the night ranked last in the NBA with just 4.6 made 3-point baskets per game. On Sunday, the Bulls signed 3-point specialist Daequan Cook, recently released by Houston.

Cook played the final 2:07 and missed his only shot, but the rest of the Bulls combined to drain 10 of 13 attempts from 3-point range.

"It was just hot. Guys were hot," Bulls guard Nate Robinson said. "It happens. Hopefully we can keep it up, keep knocking the shots down. For us, the defense is key. It shows, and now our offense is clicking. Hopefully we can keep riding this wave and we'll be all right."

Luol Deng added 19 points for Chicago. Taj Gibson scored 18, Marco Belinelli had 15 and Robinson had 14. Joakim Noah produced 11 points and 11 rebounds. Belinelli and Robinson both went 3-for-4 from behind the 3-point arc.

"They're in rhythm now. That's the biggest thing," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said of the Bulls' improved 3-point shooting. "It's off ball movement. (The ball is) hitting the paint, coming out, (making) the extra pass. So they're rhythm 3s. Our percentage has slowly been creeping up."

Cleveland got off to a fast start, leading 30-22 after the first quarter behind nine points each from Kyrie Irving and C.J. Miles. Miles later left the game with back spasms.

The Chicago reserves closed the gap quickly in the second quarter, and the home team took a 53-50 lead into halftime. The Cavaliers were within striking distance until the Bulls closed the third quarter with a 9-2 run to take a commanding 88-72 lead heading into the fourth.

"That's a good team," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "In the second half, they just turned it up. Their intensity level went way up, and we just couldn't match it. They're comfortable and confident when they're playing us."

Rookie Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 18 points. Irving and Miles finished with 15 points each, and Tristan Thompson added 14.

The Bulls were in a rebuilding slump until dominating Miami last Friday. They built a 47-31 advantage on the boards against the Cavs and matched a season-high with 34 assists.

"The rebounding is so important," Thibodeau said. "You can't emphasize it enough. As long as the ball's moving and we can keep those turnovers down, we'll be in position to win."

NOTES: Cleveland center Anderson Varejao missed his 10th consecutive game with a right knee contusion. Cavaliers forward Luke Walton missed the game due to a personal matter, and guard Daniel Gibson was out because of a concussion. ... After releasing forward Samardo Samuels on Sunday, the Cavaliers recalled Jon Leuer from their D-League affiliate in Canton, Ohio. ... Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is among the finalists for enshrinement in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, according to nba.com. He bought the team as part of an investment group in 1985. "He probably deserves to be in two Hall of Fames," Thibodeau said of Reinsdorf, who also owns the Chicago White Sox baseball team. "He's a great owner."
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