The Chicago Bulls won their first game of the season in defeating Conference rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 97-95 at the United Center. The Bulls debuted its new offense designed by new head coach Fred Hoiberg. But in the end, key players made excellent defensive stops to seal the Bulls win.
Pau Gasol blocked Lebron James’ shot with :04 secs remaining to seemingly preserve the win, but the Cavs had another attempt to score and Jimmy Butler made a nice steal on the ball with :02 remaining to send the fans home happy, including No. 1 fan, President Obama, who was in town for the game.
This was a ragged game by both teams. The Bulls had a double-digit lead but saw it evaporate on the hot shooting of Kevin Love (18 pts.) and Mo Williams (19 pts). Lebron James led all scorers with 25 points but he did not do the Bulls in tonight. Rather, the Bulls withstood a Joakim Noah knee injury in the second half and forged ahead. Noah suffered a knee contusion and did not return to the game after hitting the Cav’s Richard Jefferson near the baseline.
Derrick Rose appeared to nick his knee but it wasn’t serious and he remained in the game to score 12 2nd half points (18). He played with a mask to protect his face as he continues to heal from a broken Orbital bone above his left eye. Forward Nikola Mirotic had a solid game with 19 points and Butler added 17 after scoring only 8 in the first half.
It is hoped that Noah’s injury is not serious. Coach Hoiberg noted that if Noah couldn’t play in the next game, he would not hesitate to use rookie Bobby Portis as a reserve. Coach Hoiberg said,”I was pleased with our overall team defense.” The offense looked promising at times, and the defense was inconsistent until the final moments of the game. Chicago shot 42.5% from the floor but only had 13 assists. Cleveland on the other hand, had 26 assists and almost came away with the win.
Gasol had a poor night from the floor but made some key rebounds and that last block. Butler stepped up his game and did a very good defensive job on Lebron, while making big baskets. E’twan Moore and Tony Snell both had 11 points for the Bulls.
Kyrie Irving did not play due to an injured knee. Cleveland shot 40.5% from the floor, and their offense was out of sync. Chicago is a work in progress. The team has depth, but certainly needs a healthy Noah. But the Bulls held off its rival, the team that ousted them in last spring’s NBA playoffs.