Final Dime: Bulls 109, Cavaliers 108
Anderson Varejao finished with seven points in Thursday's loss.
The Wine and Gold rested LeBron James and Delonte West, but the playoff-hungry Bulls still had a difficult time closing Cleveland out – weathering Mo Williams 35-point barrage to escape with the 109-108 win.
The Cavaliers trailed by 10 midway through the third, but closed the quarter on a 16-6 run to get to within a deuce after three. In the fourth, the Bulls took a seven-point lead with seven minutes to play, but Mo Williams and Jamario Moon simply caught fire.
Chicago took a three-point edge with just over two minutes to play, but Mo drilled a bomb from the corner to tie the affair at 105-apiece. Joakim Noah’s jumper put Chicago back up by one, but again Williams would not be denied – draining his sixth three of the ballgame to give Cleveland back the lead.
But Noah tipped in a Derrick Rose miss to give the Bulls back the lead for good. The Cavaliers had a chance in the closing seconds, with Chicago missing four straight free throws. But Anderson Varejao missed a pair of jumpers on Cleveland’s final possession to seal the deal.
With LeBron in street clothes, Mo had easily his finest game of the season – going 12-for-24 from the floor, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, to go with a game-high 10 assists. He notched 12 of his 35 in the fourth quarter – all on three-pointers.
“(Mo) was terrific,” praised Coach Mike Brown. “He did a nice, nice job of not only looking for his shot, and being aggressive, but also looking to get others involved.”
“LeBron or not tonight, I don't think this game changed their minds about us,” said Williams. “They know we're good, we know they're a scrappy team. We locked up what we wanted to lock up.”
Antawn Jamison followed up with 23 points and six boards, but he was the only other starter in double-figures. Anthony Parker, J.J. Hickson and Jawad Williams – starting in place of LeBron – combined for just 12 points.
But the always-resilient Cavaliers got excellent production off their bench. Jamario Moon scored all 14 of his points in the second half – part of a 38-point effort by the Wine and Gold’s reserves. Sebastian Telfair made his Cavaliers debut, netting eight points in 16 efficient minutes.
The Bulls shot over 51 percent and out-rebounded the Cavaliers by eight. Noah finished with 17 points and 15 boards and Chicago’s backcourt combination of Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose combined for 47 points.
The Cavaliers close out their final back-to-back of the season on Friday, when they return home to face the Pacers. On Sunday afternoon, Cleveland closes out the home portion of their schedule with a matchup against the Magic.
2. With just one more game away from The Q, the Cavaliers can only tie their franchise record of 27 road wins – set last season. At 26-14, the Wine and Gold still have the league’s best road mark.
3. For the first time since being acquired as part of the three-team trade on Feb. 17, Sebastian Telfair saw action as a Cavalier. After having to heave at the end of the first quarter, the Brooklyn native canned his next four shots, finishing 4-of-7 from the floor with three assists.
4. The Cavaliers are now 1-2 without LeBron James this season. The Cavaliers are now 10-13 all-time with Number 23 out of the lineup.
5. Delonte West also got the night off – his second straight – after suffering from lower back spasms. The move, similar to Daniel Gibson’s time off with a mid-foot contusion, is precautionary.
6. Antawn Jamison is averaging 18.0 ppg over his last eight, shooting just over 50 percent from the floor and 56 percent from the stripe.
7. Mo registered a season-high with his 35-point outing on Thursday. His previous best this season was 28 against Orlando back in November. Williams’ career-high is 44 points, which he dropped on Phoenix last February.
8. Jamario Moon also got a good run on Thursday, tying a season-high with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
9. Mo is only the second Cavalier this season not named LeBron James to notch a 30-point game. Antawn Jamison scored exactly 30 in a March 6 loss in Milwaukee – also with the reigning MVP getting a rest.
10. Cleveland and Chicago – possible first round foes when the postseason tips off on April 18 – battled to a 2-2 draw this season. Since 2006-07, the Cavaliers lead the series – 8-7.