GAME NIGHT FROM CLEVELAND: Bulls: (10-20, 3-12 on the road) at Cavaliers (23-9, 13-4 at home)
TV: WGN TV: Neil Funk and Stacey King: 6PM CT
RADIO: WLS Radio 890 AM Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, Steve Kashul 5:30 CT pre.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Mirotic: 19 ppg. Cavaliers: James: 28 ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen and Mirotic each with 7. Cavaliers Love: 10.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn and Grant each with 5. Cavaliers: James 9.
KEYS TO THE GAME: To be blunt, the Cavaliers are deep, skilled, and have figured things out. They dealt with and are dealing with injuries, but as long as #23 stays healthy it’s a good life for the wine and gold. The Bulls need to get back on defense or any parts of the combo of Love, James and Wade will burn you. The Cavaliers have won 11 straight at home, and during the streak are averaging 113 points per game, 25 assists and nearly 13 made 3 point field goals, shooting a remarkable 50% from the field and 41% from 3 point range.
SEASON SERIES: Cavs 2-0. In Cleveland, Cavaliers 119-112. In Chicago: Cavaliers 113-91. The Cavaliers have outscored the Bulls on an average of 14.5 points, shooting 51% from the field and averaging 25 assists and only 8 turnovers.
BULLS EXTEND WIN STREAK TO 7 GAMES LONGEST SINCE 2014.
Final: Bulls 112 Magic 94.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Valentine: 16. Magic: Vucevic: 18.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Mirotic and Valentine each with 10. Magic: Vucevic: 10.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 7. Magic: Payton: 8.
CCI 24 SECONDS COMMENTARY: No letdown for the streaking Bulls. They jumped on an uninspired, lethargic Orlando club from the opening tipoff, scoring the game’s first twelve points. The Magic hadn’t played a game since a Sunday road game in Detroit, spending the last three days in Chicago, and should have been fresh and ready, but they weren’t. Granted, they were minus Gordon, Fournier and Ross, but the effort wasn’t there, and the Bulls took it to them with intensity, enthusiasm and outstanding passing on display. Denzel Valentine played his best game of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 turnover in nearly 30 minutes. Niko with 15-10. Love what Jerian Grant is giving the Bulls off the bench, and he’s found a home as a facilitator and scorer. The Bulls are just six back of the eighth seed in the East.
SCORE OR ASSIST: On BullsTV, I asked Kris Dunn if he preferred to score or dish out a dime? Without hesitation he said, "assist." Dunn is relishing this opportunity as an emerging leader on the Bulls and he’s doing a fantastic job handling the responsibility of running a team, and playing with the same energy on the defensive side of the ball.
INSIDE BULLS RADIO IN A BLOWOUT: With the Bulls up by 30 points, during one of the many time outs called by an exasperated Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel, I asked my outstanding broadcast teammate Bill Wennington if he wouldn’t mind sharing hoops stories past and present. We covered a full range of eras and players detailing the careers of Shaq, Mark Eaton, the 82 Boston College Eagles featuring Michael Adams, and tossing in some Sister Sledge songs along the way. It was a wonderful way to cap off a lopsided victory. As you know, Bill enjoys having fun on the air and it comes through nightly.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES
Kyle Kuzma, wowza. A career. High 38 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists as the Lakers upset Houston, ending the Rockets fourteen game win streak. Credit GM Rob Pelinka for securing Kuzma on draft night; he was on him early in the process. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Chris Paul suffered an abductor strain, and is unsure about his availability Friday night. James Harden had 51 in a loss.
Golden State extended their win streak to ten games, topping Memphis.
Kelly Olynyk returned to Boston for the first time since leaving the Celtics as a free agent, and scored a career high 32 in Miami’s win. Boston’s Marcus Smart called it a wake up call.
The Raps remain an under the radar, but sizzling team (winners of ten out of last eleven), blasting the Hornets 129-111. Charlotte is in a major free fall. My guy OG Anunoby had a career high 20 points. I love his name.
The Pacers picked up their eighth road win of the season. Last year their eighth road win didn’t come until February 1st. Indiana handed Atlanta it’s 24th loss in 31 games.
Denver’s Nikola Jokic posted a career high 10 turnovers (that’s right, 10!) as Minnesota beat the Nuggets. The T-Wolves are now six games over .500.
The Kings won in Brooklyn; yeah, that’s all I got.
Dallas crushed the Pistons by 17.
DeAndre Jordan pulled down 20 boards as the Clippers prevailed over Phoenix. LAC started two players with two way contracts.
Portland just can’t win at home; five straight losses, as the Spurs without Leonard edged the Blazers by 2.
No Donovan Mitchell and no chance for the Jazz, as OKC wins.
Always a pleasure and Go Bulls!