Final Dime: Bulls 108, Cavaliers 106
Antawn Jamison doubled-up in Thursday's loss in Chicago.
The Wine and Gold trailed by as many as 21 midway through the third quarter but clawed their way back – cutting Chicago’s lead to 11 after three and down to a single point with 3.8 to play. But after Luol Deng split a pair of free throws, Anthony Parker’s halfcourt shot drew front iron – giving the Bulls the 108-106 win and cutting Cleveland’s series lead to 2-1.
In an epic battle between a pair of No. 1 overall picks, LeBron James and Derrick Rose went back and forth in the final period. James even checked Rose – or at least tried to – in the closing minutes.
When the smoke had cleared, LeBron had followed up his 40-point performance on Monday with a 39-point outburst in Game 3’s loss. Rose, meanwhile, notched 11 of his 31 points in the fourth.
LeBron was simply sensational down the stretch – going 6-for-7 in the final quarter, 14-for-26 overall. James barely missed a triple-double, finishing with 10 boards, eight assists, three blocks and a pair of steals.
“We started the game too lax,” lamented LeBron. “I don't know why. We didn't have a sense of urgency to start the game. We didn't have a lot of energy to start the game. As much as we crawled back in the second half, it didn't matter.”
Antawn Jamison followed up with a double-double of his own, notching 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Mo Williams rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures – notching 21 points, going 5-for-11 from beyond the arc, including the three-pointer in the final seconds to get Cleveland to within a point.
“I'm the point guard on this team and I feed off my teammates,” said Williams. “I feel like if it's a situation where I need to be aggressive, I'll be aggressive.”
The Bulls got 58 points from their backcourt – including 27 for Kirk Hinrich, who went 9-of-12 from the floor. Luol Deng added 20 for Chicago.
Chicago shot an even 50 percent, 42 percent from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers shot the ball pretty well from the floor, but an Achilles heel from late in the regular season caught up with them on Thursday, with Cleveland shooting just 65 percent (20-31) from the stripe.
The two squads will face off for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon at the United Center, with the Wine and Gold looking to take a 3-1 lead back to Cleveland.
2. Following Thursday’s loss, the Cavaliers are now 2-11 at the United Center during the postseason. Their last win in the Windy City was May 21, 1992.
3. Despite the loss, the Cavaliers continued to shoot the ball well in the fourth quarter – hitting on 56 percent of their shots in the final period. On Thursday, Cleveland scored 38 points in the fourth.
4. Antawn Jamison notched his first postseason double-double as a Cavalier and 11th of his career. He’s notched all 11 of those against two teams – eight against Cleveland, three against Chicago.
5. On every trip to Chicago, Zydrunas Ilgauskas gets a visit from a member of the local Lithuanian newspaper – anything from a cheese wheel to Thursday’s care package, which included Lithuanian candy for his two adopted sons back home. Chicago is home to the largest Lithuanian population in the U.S.
6. Before Thursday’s Game 3, LeBron was asked about his reaction to watching Jordan beat the Cavaliers as a kid. “I was five years old,” quipped the King. “I probably went out and tried the same shot on my Little Tykes hoop and went inside to watch ‘Tom and Jerry.’”
7. Sitting about three seats from the Cavaliers bench was director Ron Howard, in Chicago working on a new movie with Vince Vaughn.
8. On Thursday night, the Cavaliers set a postseason record in three-pointers attempted (35) and made (14).
9. The Cavaliers have never lost have never lost a playoff series after winning the first two games, going 6-0 all-time.
10. Thursday’s loss was just the Cavaliers’ fifth in their last 23 First Round matchups.