Final Dime: Cavaliers 92, Bulls 85
Jawad Williams went 4-for-8 from the floor in Friday's win over Chicago.
For the third straight game against another sub-.500 Divisional foe, the Wine and Gold rope-a-doped through three-and-a-half quarters before turning on the afterburners and running away with the win. On Friday, it was Cleveland’s sixth straight, 92-85, over a shorthanded Bulls team that’s fading fast.
The Bulls came into Friday’s matchup losers of their last nine, and faced the league’s top team without the services of Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Still, Chicago went toe-to-toe with Cleveland, tying the affair at 78-apiece halfway through the fourth quarter.
But from that point on, LeBron James either scored or assisted on every Cavaliers field goal for the rest of the night – including an and-1 with 2:28 to play that gave Cleveland an eight-point edge that effectively sealed the deal.
“Hopefully as a team we can get to the point where we're not relying on that fourth quarter surge to win,” said Coach Mike Brown. “We need to learn to play the right way and be in a position to win without that.”
LeBron led everyone with 29 points, adding 11 boards, seven assists, two steals and another pair of mammoth blocked shots. James went 9-of-21 from the floor and 11-for-12 from the stripe. The reigning MVP saved his best for the second half, notching 20 points after intermission.
“Tonight we couldn't find our rhythm offensively,” said James. “We were executing alright, but just missed some easy shots. That’s what allowed them to stay in the game.”
Mo Williams followed up with 18 points, going 6-for-10 from the field – including 3-of-4 from long-distance and was perfect in three attempts from the line.
The Cavaliers, who had been struggling from the stripe, shot a strong 86 percent (24-28) as a team.
The Cavaliers other double-digit scorers came off the bench, with Delonte West and Jawad Williams adding 10 points apiece. Anderson Varejao had a quiet offensive evening, but added 10 boards and a game-high three blocked shots.
Cleveland shot just 41 percent from the floor, including 32 percent from beyond the arc. They outrebounded Chicago by a dozen, but committed 17 turnovers to allow the Bulls to remain within striking distance.
The Wine and Gold wrap up their Central Division foursome when they face the Pistons for the final time this season on Sunday night at The Q.
2. With his fifth point on Friday night, LeBron became the youngest player in NBA history to reach the 15,000-point plateau. He did so at 25 years, 79 days old, eclipsing Kobe Bryant (27 years, 136 days).
3. Since the beginning of last year, no team keeps the Bulls in check like the Cavs – who’ve held the Bulls to just 91.7 ppg over the last two seasons.
4. The Bulls haven’t dropped ten straight games since a double-digit run in December, 1999. Their longest streak in franchise history is 16 games.
5. The Cavaliers, who clinched the Central for the second straight season on Wednesday, are now 10-2 against their division this season.
6. Cleveland has now won 24 straight games against sub-.500 teams. They haven’t dropped a decision since November 18 against Washington.
7. With his 28th point, LeBron reached the 2,000-point mark for the sixth straight year. The last player to record six consecutive 2,000-point seasons was Karl Malone, who did so for 11 straight campaigns.
8. The Cavaliers are now 9-1 so far in March. Over the past two seasons, Cleveland is now 25-2 in March.
9. Like tonight’s game, the Bulls-Cavaliers series has gone back and forth and in runs. Going back to December 30, 2006, Cleveland has won two, lost two, won three, lost three, won two and lost two.
10. Friday night’s win was the Cavaliers’ 16th in their last 21 games, giving them an NBA-best 25-11 away from The Q.