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Wrap-Up – After a disappointing start in their own home opener on Thursday, the Cavaliers did the next best thing one day later: they spoiled the home opener of their Central Division rivals – winning a114-108 overtime thriller on Friday night in the Windy City.
The two Eastern Conference heavyweights went toe-to-toe for four quarters, but it was too much LeBron James and Tristan Thompson for Chicago in the extra-session. LeBron scored the Cavs’ first eight points in OT and Thompson punctuated his historic night by grabbing four of his 12 offensive rebounds and notching four of Cleveland’s final six points.
James led everyone with 36 points, going 14-for-30 from the floor, adding eight boards, four assists and as many steals. Kyrie Irving followed up with 23 points, going 6-of-17 from the field and 10-for-10 from the stripe. Kevin Love doubled-up for the second straight contest with 16 points and 16 boards. Thompson notched 16 of the bench’s 20 total points on Friday, adding 13 boards in the win.
Cleveland dominated Chicago down low – besting them on the boards, 52-42, in points in the paint, 58-44, and on second-chance scoring, 22-14. Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose tallied 20 points apiece for the Bulls, but Rose left the game with a sprained right ankle late in the third quarter and didn’t return.
The victory also marked David Blatt’s first NBA career win, and the squad presented him the game ball following the victory.
“It seems a little odd, as I have probably won 700 games in my career,” laughed Blatt afterward. “It was a little odd that way, but it’s still my first NBA win.”
Turning Point – Friday’s nailbiter had plenty of twists and turns during the first 47 minutes, but it was the final minute of regulation that decided the affair. After taking a 98-93 lead on a Hinrich jumper with 46.5 to play, the Cavaliers called timeout. On the in-bounds play, Tony Snell fouled LeBron James to put Chicago in the penalty – followed by James sinking both free throws. After a shot-clock violation, the Cavs got the ball back and on the next possession, Kyrie drove the lane, scored and was fouled by Taj Gibson. Irving sank the tax and essentially sent the game into overtime.
Scene and Heard – A Cavs-Bulls matchup in the Windy City is always fun because Chicagoans just don’t like the Cavaliers. They booed LeBron every time he touched the ball and there were intermittent “Cleveland sucks!” chants heard through the night. Those were drowned out by a contingent of Cavs fans behind Cleveland’s bench, who blasted “Let’s go, Cavs!” in the closing moments of OT. It was also Halloween at the United Center and some of the more interesting costumes included the Cookie Monster, Apollo Creed, a Redskins Hogette and the duo from “Dumb and Dumber.” There were also guys dressed as Stephen A. Smith, Mike Wilbon and Scottie Pippen whose costumes were so real, you’d swear it was the real thing.
By the Numbers – 12 … offensive rebounds recorded by Tristan Thompson on Friday night in Chicago. No Cavalier has ever come off the bench to do that and the last time it was done in the NBA was by former Cavalier J.J. Hickson last season.
Quotable – Tristan Thompson, on grabbing 12 offensive rebounds and just one on the defensive end …
”I would have gotten more, but K. Love got the rest of the defensive boards.”
Up Next – After their season-opening back-to-back, the Cavaliers return home for a couple days of practice before embarking on their first West Coast junket of the 2014-15 season. They travel to Portland on Monday afternoon and take on the Blazers at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night. The next night, they head to Salt Lake City for a matchup with the Jazz. After a day off on Thursday, Cleveland rounds out the trip on Friday night in Denver.