Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) fouls New Orleans Hornets guard Xavier Henry (4) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Carlos Boozer scored 18 points and the Chicago Bulls won their fourth straight game while nearly holding New Orleans to a franchise low in points during a 90-67 rout Wednesday night.
Joakim Noah had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls. Taj Gibson scored 14 and Kyle Korver 12.
Star guard Derrick Rose started only two days after leaving Chicago's previous game with back spasms. He played 22 minutes and finished with six points, six assists and five rebounds, but the Bulls would have been fine without him.
Chris Kaman scored 17 for the Hornets, who have lost seven straight and 22 of 24. New Orleans made its last six shots, including Marco Belinelli's 3-pointer with a second left, to narrowly surpass the club low of 65 points.
The Hornets have usually maintained a hustling and relatively effective defense even as they have lost game after game, but simply wilted against the Bulls, who had seven layups in the third quarter alone. The Bulls' lead grew to 27 in the period when Rose fed Noah for a fast-break layup.
New Orleans shot 6 of 24 in the period (25 percent) and trailed 70-46 heading into the anticlimactic final quarter, when Chicago's lead grew as large as 88-60 with 1:19 left.
Chicago finished shooting 46 percent (39 of 85), outscoring New Orleans 58-40 in the paint and 12-1 on fast breaks. The Bulls outrebounded New Orleans 49-39.
Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau is renowned for his defensive acumen, which spelled trouble for a Hornets squad that came into the game 27th in the NBA in scoring, with an average of just below 88 points. The Hornets finished shooting 37 percent (28 of 75) and trailed throughout for the third time in nine games.
Chicago scored the first nine points of the game while struggling New Orleans missed its first five shots. The Bulls' lead grew to 13 when Noah picked off Kaman's pass and raced the other way for an uncontested dunk.
Kaman helped more than he hurt, though, scoring 10 of New Orleans' 14 points in the first quarter.
Chicago built its lead up to 15 on Gibson's fast-break dunk while Rose was on the bench, and the lead remained in double digits for the remainder of the period. The halftime score stood at 44-31 after Belinelli's layup.