A couple of things were predictably obvious about the Bulls' night in New Orleans.
First of all, Will Ferrell's reading of the starting lineups figured to be more entertaining than the game.
Secondly, whether Derrick Rose played or rested his sore back, the Bulls figured to have no trouble with the injury-plagued Hornets.
Rose started but played just 22 minutes. He contributed 6 points and 6 assists, while the Bulls rolled to a 90-67 victory at New Orleans Arena. For the third straight game, the Bulls (22-6) won on the road by more than 20 points.
Whether Rose should have played is a valid question. He took a long rest in the first half and seemed to be holding back at times.
Just before leaving the game for good with 1:52 left in the third quarter, Rose stole the ball from Hornets guard Marco Belinelli, then chose to sit out the ensuing fastbreak.
Joakim Noah finished the layup, and Rose looked like he might need more rest. On Monday in New Jersey, Rose left the game in the second quarter with back spasms.
At the morning shootaround, Rose downplayed his back issues.
“It feels a lot better, where I'm able to move,” he said, according to espn.com. “(Monday) it seemed like it locked up on me. But I'm fine now. I haven't had back issues since high school. So I know this will easily go away.”
Faced with consecutive games against two teams with the worst records in the NBA, this seemed to be an opportunity to give Rose some rest. But coach Tom Thibodeau disagreed with that theory. The Bulls play at Charlotte on Friday.
“Somehow this notion of guys sitting out games … pretty soon we'll be at the point where a guy sits out the whole season and just plays in the playoffs if he can get there,” Thibodeau said at shootaround.
“I don't get that. But I certainly don't want him to play if he's injured. To me, there's a big difference there.”
For the third straight game, the Bulls built a lead in the first quarter and never looked back. They held a quick 9-0 edge and were ahead by more than 20 points most of the second half.
The Bulls' big men were dominant. Carlos Boozer led the visitors with 18 points and Taj Gibson added 14, while Noah produced 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Ferrell, in New Orleans to film a movie, supplied starting lineups for both teams. He claimed Boozer still lives with his mother, Ronnie Brewer once ate 20 hot dogs in an hour and Rose's favorite movie is sappy love story, “The Notebook.”
Ferrell was equally harsh on the Hornets, saying Belinelli dislikes Italian food and guard Jarrett Jack's post-basketball ambition is to become a rodeo clown.
New Orleans (4-22) has been hurting all season. Shooting guard Eric Gordon, the key player in the Chris Paul trade, has played in just two games because of a knee injury. The Hornets also lost power forward Carl Landry with a knee injury last week.
Before playing again, the Bulls will be watching to see if Luol Deng or anyone else is chosen as an all-star reserve, which will be announced Thursday night on TNT.
Thibodeau said he has not lobbied any coaches on Deng's behalf.
“I know how I am when people do that,” Thibodeau told reporters after the game. “I think that doesn't get you very far. These coaches, they look, they study.
“I think his play speaks for itself. I think if you value winning, you appreciate all the things he does.”
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