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The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Chicago Bulls 99-94 Sunday evening in one of the most important games of the season. Not only does Cleveland get a victory, they go a full four games ahead of the Bulls in the standings and win the season series 3-1. The season series is important because should the Cavaliers rest players and come to a tied-record with the Bulls at the end of the season, Cleveland will retain home-court advantage.
The night seemed festive for the Cavs and their fans and it started with the guy who scored the first basket of the game, J.R. Smith. Smith hit his first three pointer to start the game, but Chicago’s ball movement blitzed Cleveland early as they took a 14-7 lead over the Cavs. But Cleveland stayed in it and stormed back with a 10-1 run to end the first quarter and take a 27-23 lead after one. Smith had two three-pointers in the quarter but the Cavs struggled to contain Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy and Aaron Brooks, who combined for 17 of their team’s 23 first quarter points.
The Cavs stepped up their defense in the second quarter while both Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith got going offensively. Chicago got as close at 26-27, but Irving scored seven points and Smith connected on four three-pointers, including a wild half-court buzzer-beating shot, to give the Cavs a 54-45 halftime lead.
Chicago came out firing out of halftime, scoring on their first five field goals and knocking in a pair of free throws to get within 58-62, but Cleveland responded again with a 13-2 run to take their first double digit lead of the game at 75-60 on an end-of-the-shot-clock half-court buzzer beating three pointer that you can see on the next page.
The Cavs' mascot just made a backwards over-the-head heave from halfcourt during the timeout and it's probably only the 3rd best shot today
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 5, 2015
Chicago made a mini-run of their own to end the quarter at 7-2 and trail 71-79 after three quarters of play.
The fourth quarter saw one of the best hustle plays of the year get rewarded, as Matthew Dellavedova ran out of bounds to save a lead pass from J.R. Smith. Delly saved the ball to Mozgov and dove into the stands. Mozzy then found Smith, who hit his eighth three-pointer of the night and gave the Cavs an 84-71 lead. Cleveland got sloppy and allowed Chicago to get within five points with 1:54 remaining in the game, but a Kevin Love corner three-pointer put a dagger in the Bulls’ comeback hopes as Cleveland won 99-94.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavs tonight with 27 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. J.R. Smith had 24 points on eight made three-point field goals. Smith’s play really opened up driving lanes for Irving and James tonight.
It's unbelievable how much J.R. makes the Cavs' offense work better by simply making open shots. Sounds easy, but it's rare.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 5, 2015
LeBron James tallied his first triple-double of the season with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists to go along with three steals. Kevin Love returned from a one-game absence to score 11 points with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Love shot just 4-12, but hit timely shots to thwart multiple Chicago runs. Timofey Mozgov also came up huge with 11 points and eight rebounds. His impact on the floor was clearly not shown in the box-score as he was a major game changer tonight for the Cavs. Cleveland got just six bench points from Tristan Thompson (four points) and Matthew Dellavedova (two points). Iman Shumpert, who scored his Cavalier-high of 19 against Miami on Thursday, went scoreless tonight on 0-6 shooting.
Although Cleveland seemed to dominate the game from beginning to end, they were outplayed in pretty much every department in the boxscore. They were outrebounded (45 to 40), outassisted (28 to 24), and outshot (44.7% to 42.2%). The Cavs did hit 16 three-pointers tonight, with Smith hitting half of those threes.
The Cavs (50-27) now hold a four game lead as well as the season series victory over the Bulls (46-31) in the East standings and will likely look to rest some of their starters. Four of Cleveland’s five remaining games are against teams who are below .500, but all five are in playoff contention.
Click “Next” below for all of today’s top plays and highlights!
Kevin Love catches the pass from J.Rm. Smith in the corner, throws a pump fake up at Joakim Noah, and drives hard at the basket and throws it down with two hands!
J.R. Smith comes from behind and blocks Taj Gibson’s dunk attempt!
Kyrie Irving hits a corner three to end the first quarter on a good note against the Bulls, taking a 27-26 lead after one quarter of play!
J.R. Smith hits his sixth three of the night just at the halftime buzzer…from half court! Smith catches the pass at half-court, turns, and fires away while fading away to the sideline for his 18th point of the night!
LeBron James throws it down while getting fouled!
Kyrie Irving realizes he has just two seconds remaining on the shot clock and puts it up from half-court, and sinks it!