It was a slog, but the Bulls prevailed after pulling away in the waning moments of the 4th quarter. After taking a 45-36 lead into halftime (yuck), the Bulls briefly were in danger of giving up the lead in the third before turning on the jets (read: actually hitting shots) late in the fourth. The vaunted Rose-Irving matchup was less than we expected, to be charitable, but both players ended up with respectable lines on the night: Irving with 16 and 4 on 6-19 shooting, Rose with 16 and 7 on 8-21 shooting (and zero turnovers!) before coming up lame after a fast-break layup and sitting down for the duration. Fortunately, it seems as though his right leg was the focus of the trainers and not his surgically repaired left knee (hey, did you hear Derrick Rose had knee surgery? Wild!). It’s probably a pulled hamstring, which is concerning, but probably nothing too serious. All in all, it was probably Derrick’s best game thus far, and that’s enough to feel good about for one night.
The other Bulls saw varying levels of success on the night, led by the suddenly solid Carlos Boozer (17 points, 7 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk, 7-11 shooting) and the suddenly resurgent Mike Dunleavy (15 points, 4 reb, 2 ast, 4-6 shooting). Luol Deng added 12 points on 12 shots, Noah had 10 and 6, and Jimmy Butler finally started taking open shots en route to a statistically disappointing yet impressive 11 points on 13 shots. Taj Gibson added 9 and 8 and Kirk Hinrich dropped in 6 points and 7 assists to round out the scoring for the Bulls, who move to 3-3 on the season.
The Cavs were led by the aforementioned Kyrie Irving, with contributions from Tristan Thompson (14 pts, 13 reb), Dion Waiters (13 points), and Andrew Bynum (11 points, 6 reb). They fall to 3-5 on the young season. Both teams shots 41% from the floor tonight, but the Bulls hit 92% (24-26) from the line, while the Cavs hovered around 70% (14-20). The Bulls took advantage of a big turnover advantage, committing only 11 to Cleveland’s 20, well down from their season averages of 17.67 to 17.
Aside from some lingering questions about Rose’s health, there’s not much else to say about this game. It was a rough watch, but ultimately a satisfying one. The Bulls have yet to play a complete game this season, yet they’re 3-3. In the Eastern Conference, that seems to be enough for now. The Bulls play next in Toronto on Friday.
Player(s) of the Game: Mike Dunleavy