Chicago Bulls overcome early struggles to defeat short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers team
When the Bulls have to face a LeBron James-less Cavaliers team, it makes sense to think the game’s easier to win. And when eight other key players on Cleveland join James in not even making the trip to Chicago for the game, it makes even more sense to think the Bulls should come away with the win.
That wasn’t quite the case.
While the Bulls won their second preseason game Friday night, defeating the Cavaliers 118-108, and turnovers were a big reason why the Bulls really had to fight for the win.
In the first quarter alone, the Bulls committed 11 turnovers, many of them being unforced turnovers. Rajon ROndo alone had four of them.
Chicago was also slow to start on the offensive end as well. Cleveland opened the game on a 7-0 run, and Chicago didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 10:25 mark of the period when Doug McDermott was fouled on a baseline drive and made a pair of free throws. The Bulls’ first field goal didn’t come until the 8:57 mark when Taj Gibson tipped in a shot.
After Gibson’s field goal, the Bulls’ offense got going, but they had already dug themselves into a deficit. The buildup of turnovers didn’t help either, and neither did the Bulls’ lack of effort compared to the Cavaliers’ sense of urgency.
The Bulls found some success with Dwyane Wade, Paul Zipser, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis to open the second quarter, as the group contributed to cutting their deficit down to two, 37-35. But the Cavaliers quickly ended the Bulls’ momentum with a 3-pointer from John Holland, and that got the Cavaliers going again.
From there, Chicago continued to struggle on the defensive end and to turn the ball over, allowing Cleveland to re-develop a bigger lead. The Cavaliers couldn’t get back to a double-digit lead, but the Bulls’ defended badly enough to go into halftime with a nine-point deficit, 63-54.
Gibson helped the Bulls turn the game around about midway through the third quarter, though. He threw down a dunk, sparking the start of Chicago’s comeback. Robin Lopez followed up with a layup and a pair of free throws, and Rondo even managed to make a rare 3-pointer that cut the Bulls’ deficit to two. Mirotic tied the game at 77 by making two free throws. Then Rondo gave the Bulls the lead with a driving layup.
With just minutes left to go in the third quarter, the Bulls finally found some sort of rhythm on the offensive end and weren’t continually fumbling the ball. Even better, they translated that into some decent defense, too. The Bulls’ energy from that quarter must’ve been contagious, too, because the bench unit that started the fourth came out with a good tempo.
Jerian Grant got his first minutes by starting the fourth quarter, and he opened the period by draining a three. He went on to play aggressively for the remainder of the game, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Zipser also helped maintain thea Bulls maintain their lead in the fourth, posting 11 of his 18 total points off a variety of shots.
All five of the Bulls’ starters (Rondo, Wade, McDermott, Gibson and Lopez) finished the game with double figures in points. Grant and Zipser joined them, acting as the lone Chicago bench players to score in double figures. Gibson posted a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Rondo flirted with a triple-double with a stat line of 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and two blocks but also committed six turnovers — a game-high.
The Bulls are now 2-2 in preseason play and will travel to Wisconsin for a Saturday-night game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.