Final Dime: Bulls 92, Cavaliers 79
Antawn Jamison led everyone with 31 points on Saturday night in Chicago.
But the real story was that Byron Scott’s young squad had the division-leading Bulls on the ropes deep into the fourth quarter. And behind Antawn Jamison’s monster game, Cleveland was within two before the Bulls used a 15-4 run to pull away for the 92-79 win.
The Bulls led by as many as 20 in the third period, but the Cavaliers knuckled down defensively and closed the quarter on a 19-9 run. Chicago tried to shake the Cavaliers in the fourth, but Jamison’s 29th points of the night had Cleveland to within a bucket – 77-75.
But Derrick Rose’s three-point play on the other end triggered an 11-0 run the Cavaliers couldn’t recover from.
“With all our guys that are banged up and out of the lineup, I thought this was one of the best games we've played,” said Coach Byron Scott. “It's something we can build on.”
The Cavaliers can definitely call Saturday’s scrappy effort a moral victory, but moral victories that end in defeat still go into the loss column, and the Cavaliers have filled that up in the month of January and half of December. Their losing streak now sits at 16 and they’ve lost 26 of their last 27 contests.
Jamison went 12-for-22 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from three-point range. The former Tar Heel also grabbed 11 boards, dished five assists and had a pair of steals.
“I just thought that tonight we played like we knew we had a chance to win,” said Jamison. “We started playing defense and got a confidence that we could win. Unfortunately, down the stretch we didn't take good percentage shots.”
J.J. Hickson bounced back from a tough Friday night to double-up with 13 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Daniel Gibson rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 10 points.
Defensively, the Cavaliers were solid, holding the Bulls to just 41 percent shooting. But they were anemic themselves on the offensive end, shooting just 32 percent on the evening. Excluding Jamison, the Cavaliers four other starters were a combined 10-of-44 from the field.
The Cavs continue their mini-road trip on Monday night in New Jersey before wrapping up in Boston one night later.
2. Anthony Parker didn’t travel with the Cavaliers to Chicago following Friday’s matchup with Milwaukee, remaining Cleveland to receive further treatment for his low back strain.
3. Ramon Sessions was limited to just over 11 minutes of action after suffering a right abdominal strain.
4. Christian Eyenga got the second start of his young career – going 2-for-9 from the floor for seven points to go with five boards and three assists.
5. Antawn Jamison is averaging 23.8 ppg over the Cavaliers last five games. Saturday was the third time Jamison has topped 30 points and his third double-double of the season.
6. J.J. Hickson finished with a career-high 20 boards on Saturday and has grabbed at least 14 rebounds in every other game since returning to the starting lineup on January 9.
7. J.J.’s double-double was the ninth of his career. He’s got a little ways to catch his teammate, Jamison, who doubled-up for the 292nd time in his illustrious career.
8. Daniel Gibson came into Saturday’s contest as the league’s 6th ranked three-point shooter, going .453 from long range. Gibson was 2-of-6 on Saturday night, and the Cavaliers just 6-of-20 from beyond the arc.
9. Joey Graham had a solid effort in his second game back from a quad injury – notching six points, five boards, three blocks and a pair of steals. The Cavaliers were +15 in Graham’s 28 minutes on the floor.
10. The Cavaliers have now lost 20 straight on the road, but on Monday night, they travel to New Jersey to face the last team they beat away from The Q.