For the Bulls (34-20), this game was important and the team performed like it. Cleveland has been on fire winning 14 of its last 15 games to vault into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference standings. The Cavs have had the better of the Chicago the last two games they’ve played. It was time to make a statement. Kevin Love did not play but Lebron James and Kyrie Irving did. Cleveland played like it was waiting for the All-Star break to begin. The Bulls played like a team that wanted this game. The Bulls now lead Cleveland by 1 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference heading to a week long break.
Pau Gasol mentioned that this was a “huge game” a few days ago. He contributed his high-caliber performance in getting his 14th straight double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. He now is in 3rd place in franchise history trailing only Michael Jordan who had 15 and Artis Gilmore, 20. Gasol was voted as a starter to the All-Star game for the first time in his 14 year career.
This was a notable game for several reasons. One was the great game by Derrick Rose when it really mattered. Rose scored 30 points on 12-24 shooting and 6-6 from the charity stripe. Chicago played with good energy and focus and played as a team, notching 29 assists with Rose contributing 7.
Rose scored baskets on precision mid-range shots and darted inside for nifty layups. He displayed moves that were thrilling yet a bit anxiety provoking for Bulls’ fans, for fear he might pull a muscle in his leg. But he looked in top form.
Joakim Noah’s line was also impressive: 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists. He was on point in the paint, making plays. Noah’s floor game was excellent. He seemed to be on his game.
Tony Snell also had 22 points and hit 4 of 6 three-point attempts. Snell helped in the absence of G Jimmy Butler, out with a sore right shoulder. Snell, in his second season, continued to impress with his three point shot. He had some open looks and made them. Mike Dunleavy played 28 minutes and helped in the flow of the offense. Taj Gibson looked in fine form, scoring on some impressive low post moves and had 13 points off the bench. Aaron Brooks and Nikola Mirotic combined for 15 bench points.
James had 8 turnovers which most times the Bulls converted into baskets. He scored 31 points almost effortlessly. Kyrie Irving started slowly but had a better second half and finished with 17 points. Although the Cavs were without Love, they were in the game until the 4th quarter when Chicago stretched its lead. The Bulls shot 45.7% and 39% from downtown.
Cleveland had 16 turnovers and appeared to show a lack of concentration at times. The Bulls had only 8 errors and played with intention and focus for much of the game. Cleveland now leads the season series 2-1.
In a game that meant a lot to Chicago, the Bulls made a statement tonight, for their 4th straight win..