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MILWAUKEE – Derrick Rose knows how important Luol Deng is to the Chicago Bulls.
Rose scored 21 points and had 13 assists and Deng added 21 points in his return after missing seven games due to injury, as the Chicago Bulls easily beat the Milwaukee Bucks 113-90 Saturday night.
"He makes the game easy," Rose said of his teammate. "He makes everybody comfortable out there. It feels good when we have all our leaders out there."
Playing before a sellout Bradley Center crowd that seemed to be filled with more fans rooting for the Bulls, Deng scored on a layup from Rose just 76 seconds into the game.
The Bucks trailed by 24 at halftime and never threatened in the second half, resting all five starters in the fourth quarter.
Deng was averaging 15.9 points and 7.5 rebounds before tearing a ligament in his left wrist Jan. 21 against Charlotte. He consulted with doctors before deciding against surgery, and his initial return against the Bucks appeared promising.
"He got out there and did everything," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The veteran forward made 9 of 19 shots and had nine rebounds in 41 minutes.
"I felt it, (and) I'm going to feel it," he said of the wrist injury. "As the game goes on, I forgot about it. I really was cautious at the start of the game. As the game went on, just playing basketball, I didn't really think about it until I fell (in the fourth quarter)."
Deng iced the wrist for several minutes after the game, but said doctors told him he couldn't make the injury any more severe by playing.
Kyle Korver had 18 points, Joakim Noah had 14 points and C.J. Watson added 13 for Chicago.
The Bucks were coming off an 88-80 loss to hapless Detroit on Friday night. Coach Scott Skiles said before the game Saturday his team would get blown out in the first half against Chicago if it played just as poorly.
He was prophetic. The Bucks trailed 67-43 at halftime, allowing the Bulls to shoot 62 percent to the Bucks 36 percent in the first half. Chicago also held a 28-13 rebounding advantage in the first half.
"We've got eight straight quarters of pretty poor defense," Skiles said. "To me, the biggest stat on the sheet is we have eight fouls in a game where Derrick Rose is penetrating and penetrating and penetrating."
The Bulls scored 113 points despite only going 3 of 4 from the free throw line.
"If you had told me before the game they were only going to shoot four free throws, I would have thought it would be in our favor," Skiles said. "But it was a layup drill for them for a good portion of the game."
Leading scorer Brandon Jennings was in foul trouble for much of the game, and played 10 minutes in the first half and 22 overall. He didn't score until hitting a baseline jumper midway through the third quarter and was held to eight points.
"It just seemed like we couldn't stop them at all," Jennings said.
Drew Gooden scored a season-high 24 points. Rookie Tobias Harris was the only other Bucks player in double figures with 19 points.
Rose scored 18 in the first half with eight assists and no turnovers. Korver came off the bench to score 15 in the first half.
Watson's long baseline jumper gave the Bulls a 46-25 lead, their first lead of at least 20 points, with 5:51 left in the second quarter.
With Jennings on the bench for much of the first half, the Bucks turned to Gooden. He scored 18 points, making all 10 of his free throws, to lead the Bucks, in the first half.