Derrick Rose scored 22 points, and the struggling Chicago Bulls beat the San Antonio Spurs, 104-81, on Thursday night.
The Bulls came away with a much-needed win after dropping six of eight and handed the defending champions their most lopsided loss of the season.
The Central Division leaders broke this one open in the third quarter, outscoring the Spurs 31-20, and snapped San Antonio’s four-game win streak.
Rose, who called out his team after Monday’s loss at Cleveland, backed it up by going hard to the rim and hitting nine of 16 shots. He led six Bulls in double figures.
Pau Gasol added 12 points and 17 rebounds after being voted to his fifth All-Star Game and first as a starter.
Jimmy Butler scored 17. Taj Gibson added 15 points and nine rebounds. Aaron Brooks scored 15, and the Bulls snapped a three-game home losing streak.
After giving up at least 102 points in six of the previous eight games, Chicago held San Antonio to 37% shooting. The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard scored all of his team-leading 16 points in the first half.
Rose had it going right from the start with 15 points in the first half, and Chicago headed to the locker room with a 46-40 lead that was about to get much bigger.
Tony Snell converted a three-point play with 17.3 seconds left in the second quarter to start a 14-2 Bulls run that made it 57-42 early in the third. The Bulls stayed in control the rest of the way, putting aside the chaos for at least one night.
The recent struggles combined with Rose’s criticism and a meeting between the players and Coach Tom Thibodeau painted an ugly picture for a team that was rolling along before the recent slide.
There is speculation that Thibodeau’s job is in jeopardy and that he is losing the locker room. But Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich was not buying that.
“He’s not going to lose any team,” Popovich said. “I think you guys just have to have stories. So somebody loses a few games, there’s got to be a reason. I guess that’s the one that was picked. Sometimes players listen to me. Timmy stopped listening to me a long time ago. I don’t even coach him. You guys think I’m kidding. He just plays. I talk to him once in a while, but sometimes some guys don’t want to hear it. But as far as the team and being lost and that kind of thing, that’s not what’s happening here.”
Utah 101, at Milwaukee 99: Gordon Hayward scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter Thursday night as the Bucks missed their last five shots in the closing minute.
The Jazz appeared to be in control after a 15-3 run, taking a 101-92 lead on two free throws by Hayward with 2:35 remaining. But the Bucks pulled within the final score on Jared Dudley’s three-pointer from the top right with 1:29 left.
The Bucks had a final opportunity when an officials’ review awarded them the ball out of bounds under the basket with 7.1 seconds left. Brandon Knight missed a jumper with two seconds left, and Zaza Pachulia missed the tip-in at the buzzer.
Enes Kanter had 23 points for the Jazz.
Boston 90, at Portland 89: Evan Turner hit a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left as the Celtics overcame the short-handed Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
Avery Bradley had 18 points to lead the Celtics, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Jared Sullinger added 17 points and nine rebounds.
Damian Lillard had 21 points and seven assists to lead the Trail Blazers, who have lost five of their last six as they struggle with injuries to their front line.
The Trail Blazers were hit before the game with the news that three-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge had torn a ligament in his left thumb and would need surgery.
The 6-foot-11 power forward is expected to miss six to eight weeks.