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FULL HIGHLIGHTS: J.R. Smith Returns, But Derrick Rose Banks Three At Buzzer, Bulls Beat Cavs 99-96

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The Cavaliers visited the Bulls as they looked to get on the good side of a 2-1 series score. Iman Shumpert, despite being a game-time decision, got the start ahead of the comebacking JR Smith.

The game took off to a slow start for the Cavaliers as good guys went 0-for-7 from the field to begin the contest. The Cavs picked up the pace towards the end of the first quarter thanks to back-to-back threes from Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones. LeBron James had seven first quarter assists and moved past Tony Parker, Steve Nash, and Larry Bird to become the 4th all-time leader in playoffs assists.

Kyrie Irving had a slight scare when he rolled his ankle but the Cavs still held the Bulls to a poor 27% shooting from the field which allowed the Cavs to finish with a 24-18 advantage after 12 minutes of play.

In the second quarter, the Bulls managed to fight their way back behind the efforts of Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah. The Bulls’ rookie breathed life back to the Bulls campaign with his timely buckets as he finished the half with 11 points while Noah was his usual energetic self collecting 10 rebounds and three blocks.

LeBron James added an assist to his first quarter total to finish with 8 along with 13 points and five rebounds. It was a struggle offensively for James as he shot 4 of 14 from the field with four turnovers but Dellavedova had his back, scoring eight points without a miss while dishing out three goodies.

The Bulls dominated the paint, outrebounding the Cavs, 30-22 and scoring 26 points underneath the basket compared to Cleveland’s 18. However, the visitors still held a two point lead at the half, 49-47.

The 3rd quarter got off to a hot start as both teams went back and forth, leading to a double technical call on LeBron James and Joakim Noah after the former taunted the latter off a facial slam. The Cavs eventually built a small lead midway through the 3rd behind the efforts of James and Iman Shumpert.

The Bulls clawed their way back to tie the game thanks to a Derrick Rose drive. It was a tug of war from then on as both teams just won’t give an inch. Towards the final minute of the quarter, Aaron Brooks got called for a technical when he shoved Matthew Dellavedova who was already fouled by Jimmy Butler when providing a screen to LeBron James.

The three sequences were a Delly reel. After making 2 free throws, he beat the Bulls for a long rebound, and showcased another down under-to-up north connection with Tristan Thompson for the alley-oop slam.

Chicago ended the third quarter with a three from Mike Dunleavy to put themselves on top by one, 74-73.

The fourth quarter started no differently but the Bulls got good breaks that allowed them to erect a slim 5 point lead by the seven minute mark. Tristan Thompson amped up his effort and the Cavaliers managed to tie the game courtesy of a JR Smith trey. Derrick Rose and the Bulls kept on applying the pressure but the two early shootaround attendees in LeBron James and JR Smith kept the Cavaliers within striking distance.

Pau Gasol suffered a left hamstring injury in the first half and was eventually ruled out of the game.

The Cavaliers were down by a solitary margin when the game entered its final minute but got back the lead when LeBron James drilled two free throws off Jimmy Butler’s 5th foul. Butler then responded by scoring underneath and the Bulls went on top by one.

Down by three in the final 23 seconds, James found Smith again for the game tying three-ball. But Derrick Rose saved the best for last as he banked a tough fadeaway three to win the game at the buzzer.

LeBron James finished with 27 points on a very inefficient 8-25 shooting, with eight rebounds, and 14 assists. Kyrie Irving struggled for 11 points on 3-13 shooting after rolling his ankle in the first quarter. Tristan Thompson’s activity really kept the Cavs in the game, finishing with 10 points and 13 rebounds. J.R. Smith scored 14 points off the bench, including the tough game-tying shot with 10 seconds remaining.

The Cavaliers get another opportunity to take back home court when Game Four tips off on Monday.

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