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Bulls take care of business in New Orleans
When Tyrus Thomas played here last season, he purchased approximately 100 tickets and sent them to his mother for distribution. But he still had to deal with the inherent stress of who got what.
Not this season.
"I'm not doing that again," the Baton Rouge, La., native said, shaking his head. "It's all business this time."
His teammates acted the same way Wednesday night, dominating for three quarters and then hanging on to beat a Hornets team without Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and Morris Peterson 107-93 at New Orleans Arena.
The victory featured multiple contributions, season-high 56.2 percent shooting and improved the Bulls to 4-2 on this seven-game trip, which ends Saturday night in Dallas.
The last time the Bulls finished above .500 on a trip of five or more games came in 1998, when they went 4-2 from Jan. 27 to Feb. 4.
"Guys are playing together," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Our demeanor and approach to the game was positive and professional."
The Bulls watched their 22-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle to 10 on two occasions. On the latter, Luol Deng took a pass from Kirk Hinrich and swished an 18-footer with 2 minutes 48 seconds left to reach double figures for the 13th straight game.
Derrick Rose's 21 points on 10 of 14 shooting led the Bulls, and Joakim Noah added 16 points and nine rebounds. Thomas posted his fourth double-double in five games with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"They're playing with a lot of energy and not making as many mistakes," Hinrich said. "They're doing a great job defensively and getting us second-chance opportunities."
Thomas set the tone for a sizzling start with three quick dunks as the Bulls made 11 of their first 13 shots for a 25-11 lead. The third-year forward had 10 points, six rebounds and two steals in the first quarter alone.
By halftime, the Bulls had racked up a 16-0 edge in fast-break points. This dominance played out most spectacularly on back-to-back possessions in the second.
Noah switched onto Antonio Daniels and blocked Daniels' jumper on the perimeter, then sprinted out for a dunk in transition on a Rose feed. Rose then stole the ball from David West, who dropped the ball to a trailing Noah. But Noah instead fired a behind-the-back bounce pass to Rose for a reverse layup.
"A lucky play," Noah said, laughing. "I'm happy it turned out all right because it made me look good."
Paul's injury delayed the first regular-season matchup between him and Rose. Not that Del Negro minded.
"No, no, no, no, not at all," he said, smiling. "… Derrick and Chris Paul will be in the league a long time, so they'll have plenty of matchups. Right now, this is fine."
So were the Bulls.