ORLANDO, Fla. — 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.
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 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.