With LeBron out sick, Bulls take advantage to top Cavs
Timing can be everything in sports.
The Bulls had the good fortune of playing in Cleveland on a night when LeBron James was out sick, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith were sidelined by injuries, and the Cavs' next new arrival, point guard Deron Williams, had yet to join the team.
Given the circumstances, the Bulls did what they were supposed to do: take advantage of the opportunity. They pulled away in the second half and beat the Cavaliers 117-99 on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Bulls (30-29) won their fourth in a row, matching their season-high, and moved into a tie for sixth place with Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bulls are now 3-0 against the Cavs this season, winning both games in Cleveland, and are 6-1 over the last two years.
There were a couple of stat milestones in this one. The Bulls went 15-for-30 from 3-point range. The 15 makes were a season-high, while the 30 attempts matched their season-high. Not bad for the NBA's worst 3-point shooting team.
Jimmy Butler led the way, going 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Denzel Valentine hit 3, while Jerian Grant, Nikola Mirotic and newcomer Cameron Payne had 2 each.
The Bulls nearly had two players record triple-doubles in the same game for the first time since 1989. Butler got there, finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade finished with 20 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds.
Wade could have gotten that 10th rebound in the final seconds of the game. He was in position to rebound a Cavs miss, but teammate Cristiano Felicio also went for it and knocked the ball away from Wade.
Wade shook his head after the final buzzer, smiled at Felicio and told an ABC sideline reporter, "My teammate didn't want me to be great,"
No matter. The Bulls got four players off the bench to score in double-figures, which is also unusual. Rajon Rondo scored 15, followed by Mirotic with 14, Valentine with 11 and Felicio with 10.
Payne, acquired from Oklahoma City on Thursday, made his Bulls debut, finishing with 6 points, 2 turnovers and 1 assist in 12 minutes.
Power forward Joffrey Lauvergne also made his Bulls debut, but logged just 2 minutes. Anthony Morrow did not play.
The Bulls led 57-56 at halftime, then dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 34-20 behind 13 points in the quarter by Butler. Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 34 points.
Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams did not make the trip due to patella tendinitis. It's not clear how long he'll be sidelined. The Bulls return home for three games this week against Denver, Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.
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