Even though the Bulls were missing Derrick Rose once again, nobody noticed on Friday night in Cleveland as the Bulls dominated the Cavaliers throughout, leaving Quicken Arena with a 114-75 win.
The White Mamba was in the game with 9:45 left, that's all you really need to know about this one. Recent D-League call-up Mike James got to play the final 8:08 as well.
The Bulls got off to a quick start, shooting 60% from the field in the first quarter. They really took advantage of Cleveland's carelessness with the ball, turning five Cavalier turnovers into 11 points as they took a 34-26 lead after 12 minutes. Watson and Deng each had eight points in the quarter, and Watson added five assists. Boozer had a nice quarter with 6/3/3 and Hamilton had six points on 3/4 from the field.
Rookie Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 11 points in the first quarter, hitting 3 of 4 from behind the arc. But he committed two of Cleveland's five turnovers which led to five Bulls points. Anderson Varejao hit all three of his shots for six points.
The Bulls started the 2nd quarter just as quickly, jumping out to a 15 point lead behind John Lucas III, who put up nine points on 3/4 shooting (1/1 on 3's) in just over six minutes. Boozer continued to play well, hitting his first two shots of the quarter and finishing the half with 10 points (5/9 FG), nine rebounds and three assists. Rip Hamilton had a very efficient half, 8 points on 4/5 shooting with two assists.
As a team, the Bulls hit 11/19 shots (57.9%) in the quarter, finishing the half at 59.1%. Watson led the team with 13 points, followed by Deng's 11 (5/8 FG).
The Cavs' shooting cooled off considerably in the 2nd quarter- after shooting 47.6% on 10/21 in the first 12 minutes, they hit only 7/23 (30.4%) in the second. Irving finished the half with 13 points and Varejao had 10, but they were the only two Cavs who could make a shot- the rest of the team only shot 27.6% (8/29) for the half.
Irving and Varejao alone weren't nearly enough to overcome the Bulls' hot shooting, and the Bulls led 63-44 at halftime, their largest lead of the game to that point.
The Bulls outscored the Cavs 28-16 in the paint for the half, and 14 of their 26 made shots came from inside the lane. They also had a 10-7 lead in fast break points, which was somewhat surprising as the Cavs came into the game playing at the 5th-fastest pace in the league.
Boozer started the second half with a three point play and a nice assist to Deng for a layup as the Bulls pushed the lead to 24 a little more than a minute into the third quarter. The Cavs then went on a 13-4 run to cut the lead to 15, but they would get no closer the rest of the quarter.
Boozer grabbed an offensive rebound for his double-double on the first possession of the half, and he hit short jumpers on consecutive possessions to push the lead back to 24 at the 3-minute mark.
After a timeout, Deng stole the ball from Ramon Sessions on two consecutive possessions. He finished the first one with a layup, and he assisted on Hamilton's jumper after the second one. At that point the Bulls were shooting 59% from the field on the night, the lead was 28, and all that was left was 13 minutes of garbage time to determine the final score.
The Bulls scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 30, and Thibs cleared the bench with just under 10 minutes left in the game. They finished the game shooting 55.4% from the field, including 6/9 on 3's. The Cavs entered the game outrebounding their opponents by three boards a night, but the Bulls domintated the rebounding battle tonight 54-38. The Bulls also set a franchise record with 16 blocked shots as a team.
Noah was the only Bull starter not in double figures, finishing with eight points, 10 rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal. Deng led the way with 21 points (8/13 FG), 8 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Boozer had 19 points (9/15) and 14 rebounds with four assists, two blocks and two steals. Watson had 15 points and seven assists (plus two steals), and Hamilton had 13 points (6/10 FG) and three assists.
Garbage time wasn't a complete waste in this one- over the last four games, in 68 minutes of playing time, Korver was 0/11 from the field, 0/8 from behind the arc. He broke out of his slump tonight, scoring 14 points (5/8 FG, 2/3 behind the arc) in 15 minutes. Omer had a nice night with four points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 14 minutes.
The only bad news in this game was that Gibson left the game at 7:33 of the 2nd quarter with what is being reported as a sprained left ankle. Hopefully I'll have an update on Bullsville Radio's Post-Game Podcast.
The Bulls are now an NBA-best 14-3 with just over 1/4 of the season gone. They play the Bobcats Saturday night at 7 CT in the United Center. The Bobcats have been off since Tuesday, but at 3-12 they really don't pose any sort of threat to the Bulls, even without Rose in the lineup.