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Bulls crush Suns without Rose

Jan 18, 2012 - 5:29 AM Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Carlos Boozer scored 31 points and C.J. Watson had 23 in a spot start for Derrick Rose, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 118-97 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

The Bulls improved to 2-1 without Rose, who missed his second straight game -- and third in seven days -- because of a lingering toe injury.

Tom Thibodeau announced before the game that Rose would sit again, one night after his injury flared up in a shootaround before Monday's loss to Memphis.

Watson also had five assists and four rebounds in place of the NBA's reigning MVP, while Luol Deng scored 15 points and Joakim Noah had 13 with 12 rebounds. Watson said he is still battling an elbow injury that's kept him from playing.

"It feels all right. Still in a lot of pain during the game and after the game," said Watson. "But I'm tired of sitting on the bench and we don't have any more seats anyway."

The Bulls bounced back from their loss to the Grizzlies to win for the sixth time in seven games, improving their Eastern Conference-best record to 13-3.

"The great thing about this season is we had a chance to play right away," said Boozer. "We had a terrible game yesterday and had a chance to come back the next night and correct some things."

Steve Nash had 25 points and nine assists, but the Suns trailed by as many as 28 points in their fifth straight loss. Robin Lopez scored 16 off the bench and Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 15 rebounds.

The Bulls beat the Wizards without Rose last week, getting 25 points from John Lucas in his place. On Tuesday, Watson scored 13 of his 23 points in the first quarter and Chicago shot 72 percent from the floor in the period to jump out to a 39-31 lead.

Suns coach Alvin Gentry, whose team had a pair of three-point leads early on but trailed for the last 43 1/2 minutes of the game, was left frustrated by a slow start.

"We can't have them shoot 80 percent to start the game," Gentry said. "We have to come up with some stops."

Chicago stretched its lead to 20 points for the first time with about 1 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter and carried a 67-47 lead into halftime behind 26 points from Boozer and 66.7 percent shooting from the field.

The Bulls led by as many as 28 points when Deng's free throws made it 96-68 after three quarters.

Game Notes

The Bulls have won six of the last seven meetings between the teams...The Suns shot 51.4 percent but turned the ball over 20 times. They are 0-2 to start a five-game road trip that continues Wednesday in New York.