Balanced Bulls beat Bobcats 103-97
CHICAGO – For the Bulls, there is only way to ease the pain from the Luol Deng trade.
Just keep winning.
D.J. Augustin had 20 points and 12 assists and Joakim Noah added 19 points and 14 rebounds, helping the streaking Bulls beat the Charlotte Bobcats 103-97 on Saturday night.
The Bulls had seven players score in double figures in its fifth consecutive victory. The Bulls (17-18) also improved to 3-0 since they traded Deng to Cleveland late Monday night for Andrew Bynum and draft picks. The Bulls then cut Bynum in a salary dump.
"The trade definitely hurt," Noah said in his first public comments since the deal. "We've got to move on, but I feel confident in this team. We're working really hard.
"A lot of people say this is a business, and all that, but this game is more than a business to me. I put everything I've got into this. Lu was the same way, so it was hard for me to digest. That's just my perspective. Everybody has a different job. I'm not mad at anybody."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau also wasn't a fan of the deal, but likes the way his team has responded.
"I think it's so important to be mentally tough when you face adversity," he said. "They've shown that throughout the year. Every time we get knocked down, we get back up — and that's the mentality you have to have in this league. Things don't always go your way, and when they don't, you can't sit there and mope. You've got to move on and get ready for the next one.
"I've said this before: If you're not satisfied with your circumstances, then you have to do everything you can to change them. I think that's what our team is doing. We're fighting, scratching, clawing. Whatever we have to do, that's what we're gonna do."
Mike Dunleavy scored 17 points for the Bulls, which recovered after blowing a 15-point lead in the second half. Carlos Boozer had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bobcats (15-23) have dropped three straight. Gerald Henderson had 30 points, and Kemba Walker scored 29.
"Kemba and Gerald were great tonight," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "If we could score 50 like that every night it would be great. The encouraging thing was that their defense was also great."
Charlotte scored 22 of the last 29 points of the third to tie it at 70 heading to the final period. Walker had 13 points in the run, including a layup with 0.7 seconds to go.
"The difference was we played defense throughout that period," Charlotte's Josh McRoberts said. "We hit our shots. They're a tough defensive team and this game was a real test for us."
McRoberts' dunk gave the Bobcats a 73-72 lead in the fourth, but the Bulls then scored 11 straight points. Noah got the run started with a dunk and scored seven points in the surge.
"Noah is a handful out there," Clifford said. "He does a lot of things that people don't see."
The key fourth-quarter run put Chicago ahead to stay. Walker's layup got Charlotte within four with 11.8 seconds to go, but Kirk Hinrich hit two foul shots to help the Bulls hold on.
The Bulls played without guard Jimmy Butler, who injured his left quad during Friday night's victory in Milwaukee. Butler has missed 13 games this season due to injury.
Hinrich and Taj Gibson had 12 points apiece for the Bulls, who made 21 of 26 foul shots. Cartier Martin, who signed a 10-day contract with the Bulls on Friday, scored 11 in his first game with the team.
Al Jefferson had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bobcats, who went 19 for 20 at the line. Charlotte was outrebounded 46-34.
The Bulls built a 52-42 halftime lead behind 13 points from Dunleavy, who has assumed the starting small forward spot previously held by Deng.
Despite missing their two best players at the start of the season — Deng and Derrick Rose, who is out for the season following knee surgery — and another starter in Butler, the Bulls are in the midst of their best stretch of the season.
"We're just going to go out there and give everything we've got," Noah said. "There's no tanking . none of that. When people in Chicago say 'Chicago Bulls,' I want them to be proud of that."
NOTES: Jefferson had a total of 14 points in his two previous games before Saturday.