Gregory Shamus/NBAE

Bulls drop to Cavs in Cleveland

Bulls fall to 46-31 on the season

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By Sam Smith | 4.05.2015 | 5:08 p.m. CT

The Bulls stayed close but it never was quite enough as the Cavaliers Sunday came away with a 99-94 victory.

The loss left the Bulls at 46-31 and one game ahead of the Toronto Raptors for third place in the Eastern Conference. The win for the Cavs, 50-27, pretty much locked up the Central Division title.

The Bulls were led by Mike Dunleavy with 24 points and Aaron Brooks with 17. LeBron James had a triple double for the Cavs with 20 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. But it was the three-point shooting of J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving that was decisive. They combined to make 12. Irving had 27 points and Smith had 24.

The Bulls got off to a good start with Mike Dunleavy scoring nine first quarter points as the Bulls went ahead 18-12. But the Cavs behind Kyrie Irving had a 10-1 close to the first quarter for a 27-23 lead. The Bulls had trouble defending J.R. Smith in the Cavs big win over the Bulls in Cleveland in January and Smith again got going with six first half three pointers including a 40 footer to close the half for a 54-45 Cavs lead. The Bulls then had a tough stretch in the third quarter with five turnovers in 10 possessions around an Irving 50 footer with the shot clock running out. That enabled the Cavs to go into the fourth quarter leading 79-71.

Observations:

1. Derrick Rose continued to travel with the team, shot for a long time pre game and told the ABC broadcast he probably would return to play sometime this week. The Bulls are in Orlando Wednesday and Miami Friday.

2. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau ran more catch and shoot plays, especially out of timeouts and got some open looks, especially for Mike Dunleavy with 15 first half points and three of four threes.

3. The three-point shot truly has overwhelmed the NBA and did so to the Bulls Sunday as the Cavs attempted 32 through three quarters with Smith and Irving making 11 in that stretch. And three-point defense is one of the Bulls better attributes.