The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their fourth game in a row, tying their season high, to the Chicago Bulls 112-91 Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The last time that the Cavs (13-21) lost to the Bulls (30-8) was on Friday, Jan. 20. The score was 114-75 and Derrick Rose had been out with an injury. Kyrie Irving had 13 points that day. Last Friday it was the same stories but the role of the team’s point guards were reversed. On Friday Kyrie Irving had been out with an illness in the blowout loss. Rose scored 19 and had 9 assists.
The game Friday night, however, was not as out of hand as the game on Jan. 20 was. The Cavs were close in the first quarter and for most of the second quarter. That is when the Cavs suffered from yet again one of their embarrassing 12-minute collapses. In the second quarter Cleveland scored 16 points to the Bulls 26.
But if you look at, let’s say, Luol Deng’s stats in the first quarter he had 15 points and went 3-3 beyond the arc. Cleveland was trailing Chicago 30-28 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter players like Alonzo Gee and Samardo Samuels kept Deng contained for the final 12 minutes of the half. Deng scored zero points in the second quarter, but the Bulls outscored the Cavs 26-16.
So why were the Cavaliers letting Deng get on pace for 60 points on the night that Walt Chamberlain had dropped 100 50 years ago to this day? It’s because Irving wasn’t on the court to keep pace of the game.
Irving, who has made himself into somewhat of a floor general in his first season, controls the flow of the Cavaliers game and the other team’s game.
With Irving on the floor the Cavs have given up only 40 points once (Kobe Bryant had 42 in a hard fought duel between him and Irving) and the next highest scoring total was 35 from Chris Bosh. Even though these numbers don’t stand out, 2012 has been a very high-scoring year. The lackluster defense may be due to the lockout, but individual players have had many career-high games. Scoring is out of control and when Irving is on the court, even if the Cavs don’t score a lot, he keeps individual scorers from going off.
That, however, was not the case Friday night without Irving in the lineup. Five Bulls were in double figures, including Deng who scored a team-high 24 points.
The good thing about the Cavaliers next matchup is that Irving may be back in the lineup and the Washington Wizards really don’t have a scoring threat besides John Wall.
The Cavaliers will be visiting the Verizon Center to take on the Wizards (7-28) on Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m.