Having your star player hurt is never a good thing, and I’m not going to tell you any different. However, this season Kyrie Irving is averaging 15 points against the Chicago Bulls; and the Cavs are 0-3 against the Bulls this season. Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich has really been the only player in the NBA who has been able to contain last year’s Rookie of the Year each time they face off. So the Irving-less Cavs took on the Derrick Rose-less Bulls in Chicago for their fourth matchup this season. Head coach Byron Scott inserted Shaun Livingston into the starting lineup. With their leading scorer out for the game, there was some question as to where their scoring would come from. The Cavs are 6-20 the past two seasons when Irving doesn’t play, but Dion Waiters and company didn’t think of that as a negative, and turned it into a positive.
The first half went back-and-fourth, and the two ended up deadlocked when halftime arrived. Tristan Thompson had a nice first half, but early in the third quarter he picked up three quick fouls, forcing Scott to put him on the bench. Wayne Ellington ended the third quarter on a high note for the Cavs after he buried a three pointer as the buzzer sounded.
The fourth quarter started to play out similarly to how it did Sunday in Miami – the Cavs held a decent lead – then things began to unravel in the final three minutes after Alonze Gee got a steal that led to a fast break. After hearing the footsteps of Bulls forward Luol Deng, Gee bounced the ball off of his foot out of bounds. But Scott called a timeout to regroup his guys and it worked after they scored on their next two possessions, giving the Cavs a 102-96 wins over the Bulls.
Waiters was the Cavs’ top performer, scoring 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 3-for-4 from three.
The Cavs struggled moving the ball around and only dished out 18 assists, compared to Chicago’s 32 assists. Waiters finished the game with zero assists but was in charge of the offense the whole game.
(Cool-Hand) Luke Walton was the first man off the bench in the third quarter and played a huge role in the Cavaliers’ win. He led the team with five assists and hit a key jumper with 1:21 left in the game, giving the Cavs a 97-92 lead.
Tonight’s win was only the third win for the Cavs against the Central Division this season.
Marreese Speights only played 17 minutes tonight, but he stilled out-performed his former college teammate, Joakim Noah. These two were jokingly jawing back-and-forth before and during the game, making this matchup entertaining to watch.
Chicago’s frontcourt dominated the Cavs’ frontcourt tonight, outscoring them 60-25. The Cavs did not shoot it well from three tonight, but their effort on defense is what helped make up for it after they forced the Bulls to commit 15 turnovers.
The Cavs return back home tomorrow night to face the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are 7-4 since they acquired Rudy Gay from Memphis. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.