For a game that featured two of the best Eastern Conference teams, Saturday night’s game between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers wasn’t as much of a contest as one would expect. The score wasn’t close for much of the game, and the lead didn’t constantly changing hands either.
Rather it was a game of good Chicago defense and overall team effort that resulted in a 96-83 win for the Bulls Saturday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
The game started with a quick pace. LeBron James got the first points of the night with a driving layup off a steal, but the Bulls came out aggressive, too, so it was a close game to begin with.
The Cavaliers had the small lead to start with, but they soon went into a scoring drought, and the Bulls took advantage. The Bulls’ bench came into the game and helped contribute to a 13-0 run to end the quarter with a 21-14 lead.
That six-point lead was cut down to two with 7:31 to go in the quarter, but the Bulls never gave up. They maintained their lead throughout the entire second quarter. At one point, the Bulls held a nine-point lead. The Cavaliers still weren’t going anywhere, though. They just couldn’t muster up the points to turn the game around — it didn’t help that they didn’t have any bench scoring and missed all their free throws in the first half.
The Bulls’ lead continuously fluctuated, but was a five-point one, 44-39, come halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the game was similar to what it had been: The Bulls maintained their lead, but the Cavaliers made various runs at cutting it down. But, eventually, the Bulls attained a 10-point lead after five points from Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic then went on to score four more points before the Bulls ended the third with a 72-58 lead.
And, as if Mirotic’s play to end the third quarter wasn’t enough, he also opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. That shot was the start of the Bulls’ 24-point fourth quarter, but it was lesser than the Cavaliers’ 25-point quarter. Despite that, the Bulls remained ahead, as their 17-point lead provided enough of a cushion to get through the final 12 minutes.
Pau Gasol led the Bulls, now 25-18, with double-double of 25 points on 11-for-16 shooting and 10 rebounds to go along with his six assists, one steal and one block. Mirotic added 17 points on 5-of-9 from the field off the bench while Taj Gibson had a nice stat line of 15 point, eight rebounds, one assist and two blocks that he put up while sporting athletic glasses similar to the ones Kirk Hinrich sports — per the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson, Gibson wore the protective goggles after suffering a left corneal abrasion in Friday’s loss to the Boston Celtics.
Derrick Rose had a tough shooting night of 5-for-21 shooting for 12 points, but he still played very well. He played very aggressively on the offensive end, constantly driving to the basket. He just couldn’t get a lot of those shots to fall.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.