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Wrap-Up -- At the conclusion of a dramatic day that saw them deal their longest-tenured veteran, the Wine and Gold started the season’s unofficial second half the way they finished the first one – holding an opponent at bay for three quarters and polishing them off in the fourth.
On Thursday, the Cavaliers outlasted a shorthanded Bulls squad, earning their first win of the season against their Central Division foes – a decisive 106-95 decision at Quicken Loans Arena.
Earlier in the day, Cleveland made a deal just hours before the Trade Deadline – sending Anderson Varejao and a protected pick to the Blazers in exchange for a second rounder. The Cavaliers then paired that pick with Jared Cunningham to acquire Channing Frye from the Orlando Magic.
Frye, a 10-year veteran, was not in uniform for Thursday’s matchup with Chicago, but he’ll join the Wine and Gold at some point this weekend before they take on a red-hot Thunder team on Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City.
In their third meeting this season, the Cavaliers jumped on the struggling Bulls early and didn’t let up. Chicago was again without the services of All-Star forward Jimmy Butler as well as reserves Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah.
The Bulls lead only once – on Derrick Rose’s 20-foot jumper to start the scoring at 2-0. LeBron James scored on a floater to tie the game and a putback to give Cleveland a lead it would hold the rest of the way.
Fresh off his 12th straight All-Star appearance, James led the way for Cleveland with 25 points on 11-for-19 shooting, barely missing his second triple-double of the season with nine assists and nine boards in the victory.
Kyrie Irving – now the squad’s longest-tenured Cavalier – went into the All-Star Break in a nice rhythm and the beat went on in Thursday’s contest – following up with 19 points, four assists and a pair of steals.
Tristan Thompson posted his second straight double-double, finishing with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting – including a pair of breakaway dunks – adding 10 rebounds and leading both teams with three steals and a pair of blocks.
Kevin Love – who left the last game before the Break with a left shoulder stinger – looked rock-solid against Chicago, posting his team-best 24th double-double with 15 points and 15 boards.
Derrick Rose led everyone with 28 points and Pau Gasol added 14 points and nine boards as the Bulls dropped their fifth straight game and seventh in their last eight tries.
The Cavaliers held Chicago to just 40 percent from the floor while beating them on the boards (52-49), on the break (18-10) and in the paint (48-40) – forcing the Bulls into 13 miscues that Cleveland converted into 21 points.
Turning Point -- The Cavaliers were in control through most of the first half of Thursday’s victory – taking a six-point lead into the halftime locker room after leading by as many as 17 points in the second period.
But once they built their lead back up to double-digits in the third period, the Wine and Gold didn’t take their foot off the accelerator.
Kevin Love’s triple less than 90 seconds into the second stanza gave the Cavaliers a 10-point edge. Derrick Rose’s jumper cut Cleveland’s lead to single-digits, but LeBron’s two free throws gave the Cavs a double-digit lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
By the Numbers – 13.8 … margin of victory by the Cavaliers over the course of their four-game win streak. In their last four victories, their opponent has had a lead at any point past the first quarter and in their last three, no opponent has gotten closer than nine points in the fourth quarter.
Quotable – Coach Tyronn Lue, on his team’s defensive presence on Thursday night …
”I just like our physicality. I thought we were physical at every positon and that’s what set the tone for us early. If we can play like that every night, I like our chances.”
Up Next – Following Thursday’s win to tip off the season’s second half, the Cavaliers hit the road for a tough one this Sunday – a matinee matchup against the Thunder in OKC. On Monday, the Cavs return home for the second half of the back-to-back, welcoming the Pistons to The Q for the first time this season. On Wednesday, it’s a rematch with the Hornets – who dropped Cleveland in Charlotte three weeks earlier. The Wine and Gold close out their week with a huge Eastern Conference matchup north of the border – taking on the red-hot Raptors on Friday night in Toronto.