The Bulls were missing several key players in Cleveland on Wednesday night. Leading scorer DeMar DeRozan missed his second straight game after testing positive for COVID. Coby White and Javonte Green were also in health and safety protocols, while Alex Caruso sat out due to injury.
The Bulls (17-9) still had Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic on the floor, but they struggled mightily as their four-game winning streak came to end.
A poor shooting night did the Bulls in as the visitors shot just 42% from the field and 27% from the three-point line. Vucevic struggled in particular as he shot just 8-23 from the field (35%). He did, however, pull in a double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds).
Lavine led the Bulls in scoring with 23 points. Lonzo Ball was a bright spot, scoring 19 points on 6-12 shooting (4-9 from three).
Darius Garland led the Cavaliers (14-12) in scoring (24 points) while Jarrett Allen achieved a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds). Former Bull Lauri Markkanen scored 14 points.
Turnovers + Poor Shooting = Poor First Half
The Bulls were sloppy right out of the gate. While they only had 17 turnovers on the night, seven came in the opening 12 minutes.
Cavs rookie Evan Mobley put in a player-of-the-game performance scoring 16 points for the home team. He played a big part in the Cavaliers’ hot start as he poured in eight of his points in the first quarter alone.
The Bulls did play well as the first quarter went on. Zach Lavine led the way scoring 11 of his 23 points in the quarter, helping the Bulls go on a 9-2 run to take the lead. But the Cavs eventually took the lead at the 1:50 mark, one which they never relinquished.
After decent numbers in the first quarter, the Bulls’ shooting struggles began to appear as they shot just 33% in the second quarter. Nikola Vucevic shot just 2-13 from the field in the first half as the Bulls finished with a 39% shooting clip and went into halftime down 52-43.
Bench Veterans, Garland Come Through for Cleveland
Despite the poor shooting performance in the first half, the Bulls found themselves within just five points multiple times during the opening minutes of the second half. But a Darius Garland turnaround jumper put Cleveland up seven with 9:50 left in the third, and the Bulls never got closer than that.
Garland, the third-year point guard from Gary, Indiana, is coming into his own this season and played a key role in the Cavs’ win. In addition to his 24 points, Garland also dished out six assists.
But the young guys were not the only ones having fun. Veterans Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio made key contributions off the bench as Cleveland outscored the Bulls bench 39-16.
Rubio scored 11 points and provided nine assists, exemplifying what he has done throughout his career. Love played a key role, knocking down three three-point field goals during a Cavaliers’ 21-5 third-quarter run that put the game away for good.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls will travel to Miami to face the 14-11 Heat on Saturday night. Jimmy Butler was out for Wednesday’s game against the Bucks, so Bulls fans should be keeping an eye on him over the next few days.
The Heat beat the Bulls at the United Center by a score of 107-104 on Thanksgiving weekend.
Be sure to check out the Bulls On Tap podcast for further postgame reaction as well as Chicago basketball analysis and commentary all season.
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