Led by an incredible effort from the starting lineup, the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to punish the Chicago Bulls on the boards outrebounding them 54-40, and out assisting them 20-12.
The Chicago Bulls came into Quicken Loans Arena with the daunting task of beating the Cavaliers on the road having lost five of their last seven games and were without their starting center Joakim Noah. The Cavaliers are coming off of their impressive LA Staples Center sweep, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers on back-to-back nights. In the end, this play could pretty much sum up the Chicago Bulls’ night in a nutshell:
Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:
The first quarter made it seem as if this would be a physical battle to the end, with both teams playing extremely physical in the paint making it hard to create any space. Kevin Love was hit hard in the face by the back of Taj Gibson’s head on a spin move to the basket that knocked Love down, forcing him to miss the next Cavaliers’ offensive possession. He was able to get up after that and make a significant contribution rebounding as well as getting to the free throw line. The Cavaliers were able to fend off a late run to escape the first quarter with a 24-19 lead.
Here is LeBron James with an incredible finish at the rim with defenders draped all over him:
The Cavaliers turned on the jets in the second quarter and it was a team effort from that point on. The scoring came from everyone, with one player scoring 12 points, three players scoring nine points and two having six points at the half. Kyrie Irving had more assists (8) than the entire Bulls’ lineup (7). The Cavaliers have also played impeccable defense for what seems like the first time this season. They were able to hold the Bulls to just shooting 29.8% from the field, while also out-rebounding them 35-21 and no Bulls player scored in double digits through 2 quarters as the Cavs took a halftime lead of 54-39
Kevin Love was showing some Love to a young Cavalier fan he almost ran into courtside.
If there was an award for first half MVP, it would have to go to Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov recorded nine points on 4-7 shooting from the field, but was also an animal on the glass with 11 rebounds and two blocks, all in two quarters of play. It is good to see the newest addition to the Cavs playing this well against one of the premier teams in the East.
The second half was a mirror image of the first half in terms of the utter dominance that the Cavaliers displayed upon the Chicago Bulls. The entire Cavs starting lineup finished in double figure scoring. Kyrie Irving had 18 points and 12 assists. J.R. Smith was on fire from the three-point line scoring 20 points while shooting 6-9 from downtown. LeBron James had 26 points, five rebounds, and four assists. The big men down low for Cavs in Love, Mozgov, and Thompson combined for 37 points, 37 rebounds, and two blocks. It’s worth noting that Love was almost perfect from the free throw shooting 9-10.
Here is J.R. Smith doing what he does best with a nasty step back jumper:
Chicago was no match for Cleveland tonight. The Bulls couldn’t do enough to stop the Cavs offensively, and shooting an abysmal 37% from the field didn’t help their own offensive struggles. If the Cavaliers continue to play team basketball like they did tonight where their entire starting lineup can score in double figures, the sky would be the limit for this team. Once can only wonder how good this team will be when Iman Shumpert is brought into the mix? We will just have to wait to find out, but the light is currently shining brighter than ever at the end of the tunnel.