The league-leading Bulls shrugged off the absence of Derrick Rose to outclass the Cavaliers 114-75 on Friday, handing Cleveland their worst home loss in franchise history as Chicago continued to dominate on the road.
C.J. Watson scored 15 points and added seven assists in place of the injured league MVP Rose, who missed his third consecutive game with a strained big toe.
“C.J. is making us play with pace and is doing a great job of running the team,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “And our wings are doing a good job of running the floor and running through. That’s allowing Carlos [Boozer] to get deep post ups in transition before the defense is set.”
Chicago (14-3) seized control of the contest following a timeout late in the first quarter with the scores tied at 23-23, setting off on a 15-3 run that took the game away from the hosts.
“They did a great job defensively of making every shot we took pretty tough,” Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson said. “We definitely have to fight a lot harder. We can’t just allow it to keep going down. At some point, you have to push back.”
Luol Deng led Chicago with 21 points, while Boozer scored 19 and added 14 rebounds before the Bulls starters sat down early with the win that improved their road record to 8-3 already assured.
“We have 10, 11 guys who can really play,” said Kyle Korver, who led the Bulls reserves with 14 points.
Anderson Varejao, with 14 points, and Kyrie Irving, 13, were the only two Cavaliers (6-8) to reach double digits.
The 39-point margin is four more than the previous heaviest defeats for the Cavs in Cleveland, set in 1990 and matched in 2001.