The Chicago Bulls have only gotten one game out of the way for the 2015-16 season, but achieving a 97-95 victory over the reigning Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, with President Barack Obama sitting courtside isn’t at all a bad way to start.
The game had a fast tempo to start, and it didn’t favor the Bulls as the Cavaliers scored the first six points of the game.
But Nikola Mirotic helped bring the Bulls back into the game with back-to-back threes, bringing their deficit to three, 15-12. E’Twaun Moore put the Bulls ahead, 17-15, soon after by picking up a loose ball, executing a nice spin move and then banking in a layup. From there, the Bulls went on 9-2 run to maintain the lead, giving them the 26-17 lead to end the quarter.
The second quarter didn’t go as smoothly with both teams struggling to score at first. For the Bulls, it was their worst quarter in terms of scoring, but they managed to keep the lead they built up in the first period.
Doug McDermott scored seven points in the last 2:15 of the second quarter to end the first half strong for his team. His efforts brought the Bulls’ lead back up, 46-40, after the Cavaliers came within four points of a tie game.
The Bulls opened the third quarter well, going on a 15-6 run that gave them their double-digit lead back; however, that stretch constituted most of their offense for the quarter. In the remaining 8:26, the Bulls scored just 10 points. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers scored 16 points to tighten the game. But the Bulls still had the 71-68 lead come the end of the quarter.
Both teams played relatively even in the last 12 minutes. The Bulls were just outscored by the Cavaliers, 27-26, in the fourth, but it was enough for the home team. What solidified their win wasn’t offense, as one might expect of out this new Fred Hoiberg-era Bulls, but rather two defensive plays.
Pau Gasol blocked James’ layup. which would’ve tied the game at 97, with three seconds left. But Gasol blocked it out of bounds, so it was still the Cavaliers’ ball. Mo Williams was set to throw the inbounds pass, which he did, but Jimmy Butler got in the passing lane for the steal.
Despite the win, the Bulls didn’t come out on top in various categories. They lost the rebounding battle (50-47) and had half as many assists as the Cavaliers (26-13). But the Bulls did have 10 blocks to the Cavaliers’ seven and shot more efficiently. The Bulls shot 37-of-87 on field goals and 7-of-19 on threes, while the Cavaliers were 38-for-94 from the field and 9-for-29 from downtown.
Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls with a near double-double of 19 points and nine assists. Butler, E’Twaun Moore, Derrick Rose and Tony Snell were the four other Bulls who scored in double figures.
The Bulls are opening the season with a back-to-back, so they will finish that out Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. central when they face the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn, New York.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.