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Bulls bounce back for 100-84 win over Cavaliers

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO - While going through a rash of injuries and having to change lineups nearly every night, the Chicago Bulls lost their way offensively.

On Saturday, though, Chicago scored 100 points for the first time in nine games and rolled to a 100-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center.

The Bulls accomplished the milestone even while playing without forward Luol Deng, guard Kirk Hinrich and guard Jimmy Butler due to injuries.

Forward Carlos Boozer led six players in double figures with 19 points. Guard D.J. Augustin added 18 points and 10 assists, playing all but the final two minutes of the game. Augustin has been with the Bulls for slightly more than a week after signing on Dec. 13.

"We've been going through a lot as a team," center Joakim Noah said. "To be able to win with so many guys out, it's good, it's special."

Rookie forward Tony Snell scored 17 points, one short of his career high, while Noah finished with 11 points and 18 rebounds.

The Bulls (10-16) shot 53.6 percent (37 of 69) and knocked down 10 of 15 attempts from 3-point range.

"I think we were in a stretch of seven (games) in 10 days, along with the changing lineups; trying to get D.J. up to speed," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We didn't have good rhythm, but each day you could see it getting better.

"It's hard to do when you're not practicing and you're in a ballroom and stuff like that, but sometimes those are your circumstances and you've got to find a way to get it done. I didn't think there was any quit in these guys."

The Cavaliers (10-16) had averaged 111 points in their previous five games. But coming off an overtime win over Milwaukee on Friday, Cleveland shot just 40 percent (36 of 90). Center Andrew Bynum led the Cavs with 19 points, while guard Kyrie Irving scored 14.

"They just outplayed us and outhustled us," Irving said. "We didn't play well at both ends of the floor."

Chicago opened its biggest lead at 62-43 in the opening minute of the third quarter. It could have been a bigger advantage, but the Bulls missed three free throws at the start of the second half.

Cleveland chipped away at the deficit and got within 68-61 on a long jumper by Bynum with 4:32 left in the third quarter. A few minutes later, though, the Bulls used some good ball movement to create two open looks for Snell, who drained consecutive 3-pointers to make it 81-65 at the end of three.

When the Cavaliers closed within nine points in the fourth quarter, Augustin and Snell answered with consecutive 3-pointers to stretch the advantage to 91-78 with 6:45 remaining.

"I loved the way Tony played," Thibodeau said of Snell. "He didn't force anything. ... He competed defensively. That was probably his best game as a pro."

The Bulls demonstrated some uncharacteristically efficient offense at the start of the game. They scored 33 points in the first quarter, their highest total in a quarter since Dec. 2.

By halftime, Chicago held a 60-43 lead after shooting 56.4 percent in the first half. In the previous eight games, which featured just one victory, the Bulls averaged 20.8 points per quarter.

"Give Chicago credit. They kicked our behind," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "I thought defensively, we didn't do much correctly in the first half. Our game plan discipline was just not there."

NOTES: Chicago C Joakim Noah tried to downplay his locker room spat with Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins. Noah walked into the Thunder locker room after a loss on Thursday to visit former teammate Thabo Sefolosha and was loudly asked to leave by Perkins. "I shouldn't have been in that locker room in the first place," Noah said. "Just wanted to say hi to some loved ones, Thabo's family, that's it. It's not a big deal. Perk is an angry dude. It's all good." ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau agreed with Perkins that Noah shouldn't have gone into the opposing locker room. "The only guys that usually come in are guys who have been with the organization before," he said. ... Cleveland was without G Dion Waiters (right wrist) and rookie F Anthony Bennett (sick) for the second straight game. ... The Bulls are hoping to get F Luol Deng (sore left Achilles), G Kirk Hinrich (sore back) and G Jimmy Butler (right ankle sprain) back for the Christmas Day game in Brooklyn.
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