Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Bulls power past Spurs at home

Bulls improve to 28-16 on the season

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

By Sam Smith | 1.22.2015 | 9:24 p.m. CT

The Bulls rebounded—and scored—in an impressive turnaround from their recent slump with a dominating 104-81 victory over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

It was a nearly wire-to-wire victory as the Bulls took the lead early in the second quarter and kept building to a 73-48 margin midway through the third quarter that drove the United Center crowd to a standing ovation and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to surrender and basically play his reserves the rest of the game.

The Bulls improved their record to 28-16 with their third win in the last nine games. The Spurs fell to 27-17.

The Bulls were led by Derrick Rose with 22 points and five assists while playing less than a minute in the fourth quarter. Pau Gasol dominated the boards and had 12 points and 17 rebounds, attempting just six shots. Jimmy Butler came on late for 17 points as the Bulls had six players scoring in double figures. The Bulls, struggling with defense lately, held the Spurs to under 40 percent shooting as only one Spurs starter, Kawhi Leonard, scored in double figures. The Bulls are now 13-10 at home.

The Bulls got into a tough wrestling match with the veteran Spurs to open the game, trailing 22-21 after one quarter. Rose made an early return in the second quarter and carried the team with his passing as the Spurs were in constant double teams to try to deny Rose the interior and then bulling his way to the basket despite the wall of defenders. The Bulls went on to take a 46-40 halftime lead with Rose scoring 15 points and the Bulls holding the Spurs to 38.9 percent shooting. The Bulls then opened the second half with a 7-0 run and blew out to a 73-48 lead. But the Spurs scored eight straight and closed within 77-60 going into the fourth quarter. The Bulls effectively ended the little drama remaining with a 9-4 start to the fourth quarter for a 22-point lead with eight minutes left.

Observations:

1. Derrick Rose is the engine for this Bulls team as his scoring powers the team. The Spurs were well aware, trapping and doubling Rose wherever he went. But Rose still was able to find the basket and teammates for open shots.

2. Yes, the Bulls can play defense. Much maligned recently during their slump, the Bulls defense was strong as defenders closed hard on three-point shooters, guards got over screens and defenders had their hands in every time a Spurs big man brought the ball down.

3. Starting Eastern Conference All-Star Pau Gasol was controlling the defensive boards against the great Tim Duncan with a big performance after earning his first ever All-Star game start in his fifth appearance.