The Chicago Bulls defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night and it was a rather wistful win.
The Bulls played hard, with energy and purpose and took it to the Cavs, especially the 2nd unit, and the Bulls won a crucial game in the fourth quarter to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They are three games behind 8th place Indiana and the Bulls need to win their last two games and hope that the Pacers lose its last three remaining games.
This game was ultimately decided by who wanted it more, and the Bulls emerged with a close 105-102 win.
Jimmy Butler scored 21 points on 7-17 shooting. Rookie PF Cristiano Felicio, who has seen increased playing time, played his best game of the season. He scored 16 points on 7/7 shooting from the floor and two made free-throws. Pau Gasol scored 11 points and hauled in 12 boards. Derrick Rose had 10 points on 5-14 shooting.
Chicago has beaten the Cavs 3 out of 4 games this season and they swept the Raptors, the second best team in the Eastern Conference. Yet the Bulls are 40-40, clinging to a last-ditch hope.
It was a big win for the Bulls who staved off playoff elimination. And it prevented the Cavs from clinching top spot in the East. Pau Gasol took note,
“It shows character, it shows pride,” said Gasol. “But it’s also very frustrating because if we showed this type of edge and competitiveness every single night, we wouldn’t be talking about this.”
The Cavs were hot from three point land, hitting 19 of 40 attempts and almost caught the Bulls in the closing seconds. J.R. Smith made 7 treys for the game. He was on-target at the United Center. LeBron James scored 33 points and Kevin Love had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Matthew Dellavedova had a good look for a trey with 2.5 seconds left but he missed. The Cavs got the ball back for one last try but Smith’s attempt was deflected.
The many questions about this campaign are now put on hold until the season winds down. Right now, the Bulls are just playing the next game and looking to get a W.