Game 43: Chicago Bulls (25-18) defeat Cleveland Cavaliers (30-12), 96-83
January 22, 2016
Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland
The Bulls’ defense helped them end the first quarter with the lead while limiting the Cavaliers to just 14 points. The Cavaliers responded with a 25-point second quarter, but it wasn’t enough to slow the Bulls down — at one point in the quarter, the Bulls led by nine points. The Cavaliers’ struggles from the free throw line — they missed all of their free throws in the first half — combined with their absolute lack of bench scoring in the first half made it easier for the Bulls to maintain their lead.
By the third quarter, the Cavaliers were still putting up a good fight, but the Bulls’ defense was still going strong. Then Nikola Mirotic got going, scoring nine points in the third quarter to help the Bulls get out to a 72-58 lead heading into the fourth.
The Bulls gave up 25 points to the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter, besting their own 24, but their previous defense helped them build a lead great enough to cushion such play and stop an attempted-LeBron James takeover from being effective.
Player of the Game
Gasol led all player besides LeBron James in scoring with 25 points on 11-for-16 from the field. He also added 10 rebounds, six assists, one steal and a block for the team’s lone double-double. His plus-22 was a game high as well.
Mirotic had a much-needed double-digit scoring game of 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He scored nine of those points in the third quarter to help the Bulls build up a double-figure lead and helped maintain it.
Saturday’s Bulls game featured five players scoring in double figures for the Bulls, and one of those five came from the bench, Mirotic. Unlike recent games, the Bulls didn’t need to rely on just Jimmy Butler and/or Derrick Rose. In fact, neither of them were the star of the game for once, and this came against an elite Cavaliers team. It just goes to show the Bulls have the tools to get contributions from various players and don’t need to rely on their star players.
Despite getting the win, the Bulls, compared to the Cavaliers, had more turnovers and less steals, fast-break points and points in the paint. Logically, it would make sense for the Cavaliers to have won the game, but the Bulls’ defense made the difference. They held the Cavaliers to just 37.2 percent on 35-for-94 shooting from the field.
The Cavaliers had a woeful experience at the charity stripe. They went 4-of-24 from the line, making just 16.7 percent of the free throws. Had they made more of them, this game likely would have been more of an actual contest featuring various lead changes.
The Bulls are back home Monday night and will take on the Miami Heat at 7 p.m. central.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.