The Chicago Bulls routed the defending champion San Antonio Spurs 104-81 Thursday behind a 22-point performance from Derrick Rose and a double-double from all-star game starter Pau Gasol.
“Huge win for us,” said Gasol, who was named to the 2015 NBA all-star game earlier Thursday. “We definitely needed it. We came out with the right mindset and great energy. Now we have to build on it.”
Rose also chipped in with five assists while Gasol tallied 12 points and 17 rebounds for the first place Bulls who snapped a two game losing streak.
Chicago had a strong defensive game as well holding San Antonio to 37 percent shooting after surrendering more than 100 points or more in their last five contests.
“We wanted to come out and see if we could have that edge,” Rose said. “We really got on each other about coming out the right way in the second half.”
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 16 points but was held scoreless in the second half. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw combined to shoot four-of-22 from the field.
Danny Green slammed home an alley-oop pass from Tony Parker to open the second-quarter scoring for San Antonio, but Chicago answered with 16 of the next 19 points to take a 37-27 lead.
Rose scored seven points during the burst and assisted on three other baskets for Chicago who never trailed again in the contest in front of a crowd of 21,600 at the United Center arena.
Chicago began the third quarter with a 7-0 surge, with Tony Snell’s layup extending lead to 53-40. It was still a 13-point game before the Bulls put the nail in the coffin with a 14-2 flurry.
The Bulls’ biggest lead was 25 points thanks in part to Taj Gibson who finished with 15 points and nine boards. Gibson scored off the offensive glass and banked in a fadeaway on back-to-back possessions. His free throw then gave the Bulls a commanding 73-48 cushion.
San Antonio is 3-2 in the last five games with Chicago.
Chicago now plays seven of the next eight games on the road while the Spurs begin a six-game homestand Friday versus the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers. – Agence France-Presse