NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis stood in a hallway outside the Pelicans' and Bulls' locker rooms, wearing a gray sweatsuit and smiling as he engaged Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau in a good-natured postgame chat.
After a hard, awkward fall on an alley-oop dunk had sidelined Davis with a sore right shoulder, the All-Star's demeanor could be seen as an encouraging sign for New Orleans — and the NBA. The dangling, empty right sleeve of Davis' sweatshirt — the result of his arm being tucked in a sling — was more worrisome.
Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose helped Bulls break open a close contest following Davis' departure from the game, and the Bulls cruised to a 107-72 victory Saturday night.
"Anthony's a player that makes a big difference, so it was a tough hit for them to take," said Gasol, whose 20 points and 15 rebounds helped Chicago snap a three-game skid. "We knew that we just had to stay at it and be aggressive on both ends of the floor and that's what we did."
Derrick Rose added 20 points for the Bulls, who went on a 40-11 run after Davis went out.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams said the extent of Davis' injury may not be known until Sunday, when he was expected to be examined further. The Pelicans play at home on Monday and Wednesday nights before the All-Star break.
"He says he's a bit sore right now. He couldn't move his arm the way he needed to, so we got him out," Williams said. "He kept saying he was OK ... but the doctors didn't feel good about getting him back out, so we've got to get more evaluation and we'll have a better update" Sunday.
The dunk that drove Davis from the game was a two-handed jam of Tyreke Evans' lob. Davis' body swung like a pendulum as he held the rim, then the 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward fell horizontally as he lost his grip.
Davis stayed in the game briefly before taking himself out with the score tied at 35 and 4:16 left in the first half.
"New Orleans took a big hit when Anthony Davis went down, so that is a tough one, but you have to keep going," Thibodeau said. "Pau Gasol was really strong and really unselfish."
Tony Snell scored 19 points and Jimmy Butler 18 for Chicago.
Evans had 15 points for New Orleans, while Alexis Ajinca scored 10.
With Davis in the locker room, Chicago closed the first half on a 13-4 run that included two 18-foot jumpers by Gasol, Rose's 3 and Taj Gibson's putback dunk that made it 48-39.
The Bulls then blew the game open by starting the third quarter on a 27-7 run that included 3s by Snell and Gasol.
Butler's dunk put Chicago ahead 75-46 with 3:56 left in the period.
The Pelicans never got as close as 20 after that and trailed by as many as 36 points in the fourth quarter — a considerable letdown on the heels of Friday night's dramatic victory in Oklahoma City in which Davis capped a 41-point night with a game-winning 3 as time expired.
"They had a great emotional win last night, and it's always hard to come back the next day, especially, and bring great effort or great accuracy into the game," Gasol said. "It happens."
Bulls: Small forward and shooting guard Mike Dunleavy missed his 18th straight game because of a Jan. 1 right ankle injury. ... Chicago outrebounded New Orleans 45-38.
Pelicans: Have now lost two straight at home, where they're 17-8 overall. ... New Orleans attempted only seven free throws all game, hitting 4. ... Ryan Anderson, who came in averaging 15.1 points, made only one of 11 shots, missing all five from 3-point range.
The Pelicans began the game by missing their first seven shots and did not score until Evans' transition layup with 8:31 to go in the first quarter, but New Orleans still led 20-18 after the first quarter because the Bulls shot only 30.4 percent (7 of 23) for the period. The Bulls wound up shooting 51.2 percent (43 of 84), including 10 of 22 from 3-point range. New Orleans shot only 37.2 percent (32 of 86) and was 4 of 17 from deep.
Bulls: visit Orlando on Sunday.
Pelicans: host Utah on Monday.
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