Catching breaks: Bulls 109, Cavaliers 108

The Bulls have been given some gifts lately. And I’m not just talking about Joakim Noah and Luol Deng returning from the injured list.

First, the Raptors — the team standing between the Bulls and the East’s final playoff spot — lost Chris Bosh ”for weeks” after he had surgery to repair a displaced nasal fracture. The night after Bosh had his face broken, Toronto’s Hedo Turkoglu suffered a busted nose of his own. He’s listed day-to-day.

As for the Bulls, they got to play (and lose to) the Andrew Bogut-less Milwaukee Bucks earlier this week. Then, last night, Chicago faced the Cleveland Cavaliers sans LeBron James, who sat out with “bumps and bruises.” And as if that wasn’t enough, Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison (23 points, 10-for-19, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) limped off the court after suffering a right foot contusion late in the fourth quarter. He did not return.

I mean, it’s been like a  karmic reversal from the injury woes the Bulls have been dealing with all season long.

And yet they still almost lost.

This is the kind of crazy stuff that goes on at the end of the NBA’s regular season. You have teams (like the Bulls) scrambling to make the playoffs. You have teams (like the Cavs) with nothing to play for except for a little pride and the chance to prove they’re more than just the “LeBronairs.”

Cleveland was not sharp on defense. To wit, the Bulls rank 28th in Offensive Efficiency (100.5 points per 100 possessions) while the Cavaliers are 7th in Defensive Efficiency (101.2 points allowed per 100 possessions). Yet Chicago shot nearly 52 percent as a team, had an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 54.7, and finished with an Offensive Efficiency rating of 110.1.

All that despite Taj Gibson’s forgettable 1-for-9 shooting performance.

Chicago’s “Fantastic Four” were on. The Bulls got double-doubles from Derrick Rose (24 points, 10-for-19, 10 assists), Joakim Noah (17 points, 8-for-14, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks) and Luol Deng (22 points, 9-for-16, 10 boards), and Kirk Hinrich (23 points, 8-for-12) had a hot shooting night.

Did I mention they still almost lost?

Just like against the Bucks, Chicago built a double-digit lead and then lost it. Mo Williams got so hot I was ready to call 911 and send some fire trucks to the United Center. Williams drilled six three-pointers and finished with a season-high 35 points. Four of Mo’s three-pointers came in the fourth quarter, and two of them were absolute heat checks.

Said Williams: “Even without LeBron, we gave the crowd a show. They paid those high-priced tickets. I think it was worth it.”

Worth a heart attack, maybe.

Fortunately, the Bulls’ defense came through down the stretch, which is good, because their free throw shooting sure didn’t. After an ugly possession that ended with a forced three-point attempt by Rose, the Cavs rumbled downcourt in transition with a chance to take the lead. Fortunately, Gibson blocked Williams’ layup out of bounds with 26 seconds left.

Then Williams — who, as I mentioned, was in “heat check mode” – chucked up a tough turnaround jumper against aggressive defense by Hinrich. Deng hauled down the board and was immediately fouled. Naturally, he bricked both free throws.

Fortunately, Cleveland had an ugy possession of their own, with two jumpers by Anderson Varejao sandwiched around a blocked layup attempt by Jamario Moon. That sequence mercifully ended with a forced foul on Rose, who promptly shanked both foul shots. Thank goodness for Noah, who knocked the rebound away after Derrick’s second miss, which allowed time to expire.

I should probably mention that Chicago’s final two scores were a 17-footer by Noah and then a Noah tip-in off a missed layup attempt by Rose.

Yeah. Joakim came up big.

So…whew.

The win moved Chicago into an eighth place tie with the Raptors (although Toronto has the tiebreaker). As important as this game was, though, it won’t mean anything if the Bulls don’t come through in New Jersey tonight.

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos

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8 Responses to Catching breaks: Bulls 109, Cavaliers 108

  1. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S. April 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    I am glad the Bulls won & kudos to Matt and anyone else for watching it. My wife told me they were on TNT. I knew they were playing the Cavs. …I couldn’t watch. I just couldn’t. It would have been too much to see the final nail put into this season. But, here we are today: TIED for the last playoff spot. Who woulda thunk??? I think I had a discussion with someone on here earlier in the year about how the most we can realistically ask from our team is that they are entertaining. Well it’s April 9th and win, lose or draw; we are all still watching with baited breath. Go Bulls!

  2. PTFC April 9, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    In the Bulls defense, Mo williams just went nuts (something he wont/can’t consistently do), so had he not went off and just been Mo Williams the Bulls would have won by like 10 points, just saying.

    Also, I pose a question.

    What’s sadder?

    The fact the Bulls still almost lost?

    or

    the fact that the Cavs couldn’t beat a mediocore 9th place team (with Mo and Jamison playing heavy minutes) without Lebron?

    This shows how garbage the Cavs are with out LBJ. It is the Cleveland Lebrons. With this said it is more then clear LBJ is this years MVP.

  3. DipenPatel@Chicagobreakingsports.com'
    BULL4EVER April 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    Chicago has to go after Chris Bosh like they have never went after him before,if he leaves Toronto because Bosh is the best fit fit for this young Bulls team of the future.He will give something that Chicago has always lacked, which is low-post paint scoring which would be humongous for the Bulls for years and years.GO BULLS.

  4. cavendish.lamore@gmail.com'
    cavendish April 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Was at the game last night. One thing I noticed was that the crowd was not as into it as earlier in the year and last year. Towards the end of the game the crowd was back to it’s usual (loud) form, but it got me thinking. Has anyone else noticed the stadium isn’t as loud the last few months? It almost makes me think that there have been too many swings with this team that the fans never know which team to expect – from game to game and even from quarter to quarter.

    I was expecting pandemonium last night – Cleveland in town, playoffs on the line, all our players back on the court. The entertainment crew was in playoff form, with new acts and extra tshirt bazookas, etc. They knew what time of year it is. But the fans were listless for most of the game. They came through in the end and Bulls fans are the best in the league but I think this up and down season has taken it’s toll.

    IDK, maybe I’m over thinking it.

  5. chicondo@hotmail.com'
    luvabullnj April 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Okay. I just now was able to take my oxygen mask off. :) What a game! Noah is a winner period. When Paxon drafted him, I was disappointed, not because I didn’t think Noah wouldn’t be good, I just didn’t think he would be this good. I was disappointed because we needed a scoring big man and I didn’t think Noah could ever develop into one. I don’t think he’ll ever be a 20-10 guy but he can be a 13-13 guy with a knack for doing just the right things to get his team the win. Like having the presence of mind to swat the ball away instead of trying to grab the rebound and incurring an “over the back” foul. That was huge.

  6. powers88@vt.edu'
    Bobby April 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    “In the Bulls defense, Mo williams just went nuts (something he wont/can’t consistently do), so had he not went off and just been Mo Williams the Bulls would have won by like 10 points, just saying.”

    I agree with you PTFC on that the Bulls would have won fairly easily had Mo not gone off but that’s why Wade is my MVP. I don’t think the Cavs are garbage without Lebron. You take out Lebron and I think they can still compete with Big Z, Mo, Varejao, and an underrated Delonte West when he is in there. If you take Wade out of Miami they go from wherever they arenow, I think 5th seed, to being the Nets.

  7. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 April 9, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    i agree 100% with you bobby wade should get the mvp….

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