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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bulls blowout Magic despite missing Rose


ORLANDO, Florida — If the Chicago Bulls are going to make a run at an NBA championship this season, they will need a healthy Derrick Rose to do it.

News photo
Taking the underpass: Charlotte's D.J. Augustin drives on Philadelphia's Elton Brand in the first half on Monday night. The 76ers beat the Bobcats 105-80. AP

For now, though, they continue to find a way to beat the top teams in the Eastern Conference without their most indispensable star.

With the reigning MVP out nursing a sore groin for the fourth straight game, Rose's teammates used a smothering defense and capitalized on a plethora of Orlando Magic turnovers in an 85-59 victory Monday night.

Carlos Boozer picked up the scoring slack with 24 points and 13 rebounds — his third 20-point scoring effort against the Magic this season — and John Lucas III added 20 points off the bench in just 21 minutes of action to lead the Bulls.

"The real story honestly is our defense," said Boozer, whose team has beaten their next three chasers in the Eastern Conference in the past six days. "Our defense was . . . that was probably one of the best performances we've had this season.

"It was fitting because they kicked our butt in Chicago, (and) got a big win. For us to come back and do this . . . it's a big win for us."

The Bulls' defense was indeed the thing to marvel at Monday, with the 59 points they surrendered setting a new franchise record for fewest regular-season points allowed.

It was also a milestone night for Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau, who became the fastest coach in NBA history to earn 100 career victories. Thibodeau did it in just 130 games, one game faster than Avery Johnson when he set the previous standard in 2006.

"We had a lot a of guys step up," Thibodeau said. "We caught a break. They played last night in a tough game. We're fresh, so we had an advantage there and they missed some shots they normally make."

Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Magic, who had 19 turnovers. Orlando had 11 in the first half, just two in the third quarter, but six more in the final 12 minutes.

Celtics 79, Hawks 76

In Atlanta, Ray Allen hit two 3-pointers in Boston's 13-0 run in the fourth quarter and protected the lead with two free throws in the final seconds as the Celtics held on to beat the Hawks.

Boston led 73-58 at the end of the run. Joe Johnson, who had 25 points, had three late 3-pointers as the Hawks rallied. Johnson's 3 with 11.8 seconds remaining cut the lead to 77-76.

76ers 105, Bobcats 80

In Charlotte, Jrue Holiday had 20 points and six assists as first-place Philadelphia defeated the Bobcats to snap a three-game losing streak and sweep the three-game season series between the teams.

Cavaliers 105, Nets 100

In Newark, New Jersey, Tristan Thompson scored a career-high 27 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and gave Cleveland the lead with a tip-in with 1:11 to play, leading the Cavaliers over the Nets.

Fellow rookie Kyrie Irving added 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds as Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak and sent New Jersey to its third straight loss.

Mavericks 112, Nuggets 95

In Denver, Dirk Nowitzki had 33 points and 11 rebounds, Brandan Wright scored 15 points and Dallas beat the Nuggets.

Arron Afflalo scored 24 points for Denver.

Timberwolves 97, Warriors 93

In Oakland, Kevin Love banked in a 4.9-meter jumper with 4 seconds left, then added an insurance tip-in off a miss by J.J. Barea to help Minnesota keep its dimming playoff hopes alive with a win over Golden State.

Love finished with 36 points and 17 rebounds for his 39th double-double of the season.

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