(Reuters) - Carlos Boozer and the Chicago Bulls recovered from a slow start to pummel the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers 118-92 on Monday and take over at the top of the Eastern Conference's Central division.
Forward Boozer scored a game-high 24 points along with 11 rebounds, while Luol Deng added 19 points as the Bulls recorded their third straight win, and their 11th in a row over the Cavaliers.
Chicago, who upset the NBA champion Miami Heat 96-89 on Friday, shrugged off a disappointing first quarter to improve their overall record to 19-13 and dislodge the Indiana Pacers (20-14) from top spot in the Central standings.
Guard Dion Waiters, off the bench, led the way with 18 points for the Cavaliers who slipped to 8-28 following their eighth defeat in their last 11 games.
Cleveland, without center Anderson Varejao for the 10th straight game due to a bruised right knee, raced into an early 7-0 lead as their opponents surprisingly struggled to find the hoop and, with forward C.J. Miles pouring in two three-pointers, they ended the first quarter 30-22 up.
But the Bulls gradually clawed their back, taking the lead for the first time at 33-32 on a Marco Belinelli three-pointer before going into halftime 53-50 ahead.
With Boozer, Deng and center Joakim Noah all sizzling on offense in the third quarter, Chicago stretched their lead to 88-72 and stayed in control throughout the final period.
Noah finished with 11 points, one of six Bulls players to reach double figures on the night.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Patrick Johnston)
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