Bulls take down Cavs 111-105

The Bulls made an impressive early season statement of their own in the United Center Friday with a 111-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Dwyane Wade had 24 points and some big late plays against LeBron James and Taj Gibson had 23 points and 11 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had his first triple double for the Bulls with 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. James had 27 points and 13 assists. The Bulls had a dominating 78 points in the paint.

The Bulls went to 11-7 and the Cavs with their third consecutive loss fell to 13-5.

There was much media attention pregame with James arriving in a Chicago Cubs baseball uniform to pay off a World Series wager with Wade. The Chicago baseball club beat the Cleveland team in the series. And then there was more action in the first 12 minutes than all seven baseball games. Behind Gibson powering inside, the Bulls opened fast, saw the Cavs began running out on a fast paced first quarter for a 21-16 lead and 31-24 before the Bulls came back behind Butler to close the first quarter trailing 33-30. Gibson had 10 first quarter points on five of five shooting and Butler eight points.

But the Cavs shot 64 percent as they pushed the ball, making three three pointers to none for the Bulls. The Bulls went with more regulars than usual to open the second quarter with uncertain bench performances of late. The Cavs did start fast to a 40-32 lead. But with Wade making some electric moves on drives, Gibson dominating on the inside and Rondo driving the ball, the Bulls got within 49-47 with five minutes left in the half. Kyrie Irving got going on drives for the Cavs, but the Bulls continued the pace with the Cavs and with Gibson exploiting the inside, the Bulls trailed 60-59 in an entertaining half. Gibson scored 18. His career high coming in was 26. The Bulls, however, were zero for seven on threes at the half with the Cavs five of 12.

The Bulls had a fast start to the second half taking advantage of the Cavs’ small lineup. The Bulls went to Robin Lopez against Kevin Love with success while Gibson continued to take advantage inside. The Bulls maintained the pace and the Cavs playing a third in four nights seemed to slow some in the third. The Bulls finally made a three after a zero for eight start with Wade’s shot and slowed the Cavs to 20 points in the quarter as Wade embraced the occasional matchup with former teammate James for a pair of driving layups. And Butler ran a nice back door against James for a layup as the Bulls went ahead 88-80 heading into the fourth quarter.

Gibson began the fourth quarter with another strong post up move and Wade with a drive, but the Cavs spun the ball around for a Channing Frye three and moved within 92-89 with 8:29 left. It continued to be a thriller coming down the stretch with James bowling over Butler for what seemed like an offensive foul and then a dunk. Butler came back firing with a drive and a pair of free throws that followed a Rondo three. With 3:48 left, the Bulls led 103-99. A Wade drive past LeBron for a layup sent the Cavs to a timeout with 2:30 left and the Bulls leading 107-101. Then Nikola Mirotic, who has struggled lately, made a pair of big defensive plays down the stretch with a steal from James and block on a Kyrie Irving three. The fans gave the Bulls a standing ovation late in the game when the outcome seemed assured.