Augustin, Gibson step up against Nets

NEW YORK -- It's just basketball.

That's how D.J. Augustin responded to the continuous questions about how he adapted to Chicago's offense so effectively in just seven games.

"It doesn't matter who you're out there with," he said. "Basketball is basketball. It's just being smart and making the right decisions."

Except that, at least to some extent, it does matter who he's out there with. Kirk Hinrich returned to the starting lineup after missing five games with back spasms. Augustin played backup but logged 33 minutes, including significant time effectively managing the backcourt with Hinrich while the Bulls (11-16) hammered the struggling Brooklyn Nets (9-19) 95-78 in the Christmas Day matinee at the Barclays Center.

"I think just having a secondary ball handler gives you the opportunity to run pick-and-roll on both sides of the floor," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think the big thing is having shooters on the floor. When you have shooters it opens things up inside."

The spacing helped make things easier for Chicago to flourish in the post. Carlos Boozer scored 14 points to go along with six rebounds. Taj Gibson led all scorers with 20 points and added eight boards. Mike Dunleavy added 13 points and seven rebounds as six Bulls players finished in double figures.

"It's a good lineup for us," Hinrich said. "We can go to that at times, two guys who can play pick-and-rolls. He has been great for us, so it's been a huge boost."

Thibodeau went to his two-point guard lineup mostly in the second half when Chicago used a 21-5 run to close the third quarter with a 77-58 advantage. The Bulls have relied heavily on Augustin since acquiring the point guard off waivers in a desperation move two weeks ago. He's averaged 13.6 points and 7.6 assists in his past five games.

Thibodeau commended Gibson after the game, saying that the forward is his best practice player and that the fact he's gotten off to a strong start this season is no surprise to the coach. For Gibson, a Brooklyn native, it was exciting to have a big game and grab a win on Christmas Day. He converted on a thunderous alley-oop dunk from Joakim Noah in the first quarter. But playing in your hometown in front of friends and family can get tough.

"It's stressful man," Gibson said. "I did a toy drive yesterday. I was just tired man. Thibs told me this was going to happen but I'm just happy to be back and represent my family and my neighborhood."