I walked into the Bulls locker room just prior to tip-off on Friday because I wanted to say what’s up to Brian Scalabrine. When a living legend is in town it’s always good to at least stop by and say hello.
Prior to doing so, I was pretty sure the Bulls front-line was going to present some match-up issues for the Cavaliers last night. It wasn’t until I was actually standing there though, looking around the room at just how many super-athletic and extremely tall bigs the Bulls currently employ, that I realized the Cavs had no chance whatsoever of winning the game. I ended up talking to Scal and told him good luck tonight, because I knew he was about to get some serious burn.
He did too, because well before the game was technically over, the Cleveland Cavaliers had already been blown completely off their home floor by the visiting Bulls. The starting combination of Bulls’ Forwards (Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer) alongside their Center (Joakim Noah) finished with totals of 48 points, 32 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots for the game. They each played less than three quarters worth of minutes too. In the process, they helped their squad win the Points In The Paint battle 50-28 overall, out-rebounded the Cavs as a team by 16 (54-48), and they led by as many as 42 points late in the 4th quarter before Scal went in and did work.
None of that is technically a record though. Nor is the 7 rebounds that Omer Asik collected for Chicago in only 14 minutes, or is the stat line of 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 foul and 1 turnover that Semih Erden posted for the Cavs a record either. Blocking the 16 Cavaliers’ shot attempts that the Bulls did as a team was a record though, for them. Losing by 39 points (114-75) at home was also a record in futility for the Cavs too. So things went kinda badly last night. Sorry Terrell Brandon had to be in the house and see all that first hand.
If you are looking for positives though, you could argue that the Cavaliers no longer “live and die by the three point shot” anymore. They shot fifty percent (7 of 14) from three point range last night as a team and still died a thousand times out there. Kyrie Irving also started the game extremely effectively as well, scoring 11 points in the opening 6+ minutes. Then Byron Scott benched him though, he only played 14 more minutes the rest of the night from there, and made only one more basket (KI: 13 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds).
Byron said after the game that he told his team he, “hopes they come back tomorrow (tonight at the Atlanta Hawks) with more heart and more of another part of the anatomy he can’t mention too.” I hope so as well. They will definitely need those elbows tonight in Atlanta, and I’m also glad the Cavaliers currently do have a coach who’s tough enough, or deserves enough respect, to be able to talk to a team of millionaires like that. I think past regimes could have been better served by being able to dish out what Byron does after performances like last night.
Additionally however, if Kyrie Irving is averaging almost two points per minute during the first six minutes of tonight’s game, or any other game after that, I hope Byron also comes back with the understanding himself that maybe he can let Irving keep playing. Maybe finish whatever quarter out that he’s blowing up in. Maybe allow him the opportunity to see if he’s about to have one of those special NBA nights.
That said, even if Irving would’ve went on to have that type of night last night, the Cavs would’ve probably just lost by 17 then instead of 39, so I suppose what’s the point. Antawn Jamison went 1 for 10 on the game, Daniel Gibson and Tristan Thompson each went 2 for 10, Ramon Sessions went 3 for 12, and it was never in doubt really. Except for kinda when there was 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the 2nd quarter, Omri Casspi had just converted a dunk, and you thought that if the Cavs finished the half strong who knows from there.
It was at that point specifically though, when the Bulls then countered with a 10-0 run of their own to finish the half up 19, and it just got uglier from there. Scalabrine eventually out-dueled Luke Harangody late as well, in a highly anticipated match-up, which was also disappointing from the Cavs side of things too. Scal finished with 4 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist in just over 8 minutes of action. Gody didn’t get as much playing time to be fair (6:39 mins of PT), but he was shut out on the boards and in the facilitating department, burying the only two free throws he attempted in response.
The Chicago Bulls are really for real though. To be honest, I didn’t think they had a good chance of beating the Heat in a playoff scenario down the road this season prior to seeing them in person last night. Even without the MVP Derrick Rose able to play, you can still see just how many quality pieces they really have. Now I do think they have that chance to win big later on this year, but I guess maybe I should’ve thought so before.
Next up for the Cleveland Cavaliers is a 7 pm tip-off tonight in Atlanta with the Hawks. No Al Horford, which certainly helps Cleveland from a winnability standpoint. It will be a good test for these young Cavs to see how they respond one day later from getting their brains beaten in like they did last night too.