Pau Gasol scores career-high 46 as Bulls roll past Bucks

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Zaza Pachulia tried.

He fronted Pau Gasol, played behind him, pushed him, shoved him. Oh, he tried.

And he wasn’t alone. Bucks coach Jason Kidd threw everything at Gasol.

‘‘[Gasol] wasn’t going to let us lose,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said after the Bulls’ 95-87 victory Saturday at the United Center.

With his career-high 46 points, Gasol carried his team to victory.

“I’m happy and fortunate that I can do it, continue to do it,’’ Gasol said of his record night. “My two previous 40-plus games, we lost. I usually don’t like guys having that amount of points because it takes away the rhythm of the other players. I’m all about balance and a team game, but I’m glad we were able to work it out, play, take advantage of it and win the game.’’

Derrick Rose was sitting out with soreness in his left knee and Mike Dunleavy was still on the shelf with a jammed right ankle, so someone needed to step up and end the Bulls’ two-game losing streak.

“It was big for us,’’ Joakim Noah said. “Pau’s been playing at a really high level for us, and to have a career high, 13 years into the league, it was pretty special, and it was a good win for us. He’s always pretty focused. It was pretty impressive, the way he did it.’’

Gasol scored the first seven points of the game against Pachulia.

“He just got it going right from the beginning,’’ Pachulia said. “I’ll take the blame for that. I started on him this game. We’ll see him again. He was the only one carrying the team. He’s a great player, but it’s hard for me to accept defensively when a player has that kind of night against you.’’

It wasn’t just Gasol’s scoring, either. He grabbed 18 rebounds and had three assists.

When asked if he felt the need to put up big numbers, especially in the scoring department, with Rose out, Gasol said it wasn’t his intention.

“It just kind of happened,’’ Gasol said. “You hit the first few shots, your teammates look to you to get in a rhythm, and [Saturday night] it was me. Another night, it’s going to be another guy. They took away [Jimmy Butler’s] looks and tried to double-team him all over the floor, so I was the one who was kind of open.’’

Butler had nine points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and Kirk Hinrich had 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Not counting Gasol and Hinrich, the Bulls (26-12) shot only 24 percent from the field.

Again, the big concern was Rose, who was scheduled to meet with team physician Brian Cole and have his knee re-evaluated. Thibodeau had no update after the game.

“I’m always concerned,’’ Thibodeau said about Rose, who has missed 11 games this season.


Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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