Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Bulls give fans victory on Christmas night

Bulls improve to 20-9 on the season

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By Sam Smith | 12.25.2014 | 9:23 p.m. CT

The Bulls delivered their home fans a nice holiday gift Thursday, Christmas Day, with a 113-93 victory over the Los Angeles without the injured Kobe Bryant.

The Bulls pushed their record in their best stretch of the season to 20-9 with their fifth straight win and eighth in the last nine. The Bulls have also scored more than 100 points in 12 of their last 15 games.

The Bulls were led by Pau Gasol with 23 points, Jimmy Butler 21 and Derrick Rose 20. The Bulls broke open a close game early in the fourth and pulled away in the last five minutes. Gasol warmly greeted his former Lakers’ teammates after the game on the court as Carlos Boozer did with several Bulls players.

It took a little of the cheer out of a United Center Christmas for even Bulls fans as the Lakers were without Bryant, who sat out with aches of aging. Rose then put a smile on some faces with the gift of baskets, a pull up 22 footer, a floater and a three for a 7-1 Bulls start. The Lakers, who had defeated the first place Warriors without Bryant Tuesday, rallied back to take a 17-16 lead on a Jeremy Lin runner before the Bulls got Pau Gasol’s second three of the season and a 27-24 lead after one. The Bulls reserves behind Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic were big again in racing out to a 45-30 Bulls lead. The other storylines were Gasol playing for the first time against his former team and the same for Boozer, who was greeted with mixed boos and ennui. Boozer had six points in the first half as the Bulls led 58-47 with Rose, Gasol and Jimmy Butler all with 11. The Lakers leaped back into the game in the third quarter attacking Gasol early with an 11-2 run to start the second half. But Gasol came back late on the boards and shooting, getting 10 points and seven rebounds just in the third to give the Bulls an 83-77 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Observations:

1. Nikola Mirotic continues to impress with his shooting, passing and hustle and if the Rookie of the Year vote were now it would be difficult to support anyone else. At the least he’s going to the rookie/sophomore game at All-Star break. He had 13 points.

2. Derrick Rose doesn’t play high in the air much anymore, but he still continues to come up with plays that make you gasp with his quickness and change of directions driving.

3. Another strong performance for the reserves with the reserves stretching out the first half lead. Mirotic and Aaron Brooks scoring in double figures and Taj Gibson’s rebounding crucial in a 13-5 fourth quarter start.