May 31, 2016

Partly cloudy

Chicago still has Cleveland’s number


Rick Noland

The Gazette

CLEVELAND — Next time the Cavaliers face the Chicago Bulls, take the team from the Windy City and give the points.

Not to advocate betting or anything, but the Bulls once again ran roughshod over the Cavs, winning 115-86 Friday night at sold-out Quicken Loans Arena.

Chicago, whose biggest lead was 31 early in the fourth quarter, has now beaten Cleveland nine times in a row, including four by an average of 30.3 points since Kyrie Irving came into the league.

“That’s what you call a good old-fashioned butt-whipping,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said.

Even with 2011 league MVP Derrick Rose out with a bad knee — he’s missed three of the four whippings, by the way — the Bulls (2-0) never gave the Cavs (1-1) a chance, jumping to a seven-point lead before Cleveland even attempted a shot.

Chicago led by 16 after the first period, by 28 late in the second quarter and by at least 20 for the entire second half, which was played only because NBA games are required to last 48 minutes.

“It’s a good lesson,” said Scott, whose team starts a six-game road trip tonight in Milwaukee. “You just can’t walk on the floor and think, ‘Hey, we won the other night, we’re 1-0.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

No it doesn’t.

The Bulls hit a sizzling 74 percent in the first quarter and never really cooled off, finishing the game at .638 (44-for-69).

Richard Hamilton, who absolutely torched Daniel Gibson in a 14-point third quarter, had 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting for Chicago, while Carlos Boozer had 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting, seven rebounds and six assists. Nate Robinson had 16 points off the bench on 7-for-9 from the floor, plus five rebounds and 12 assists. All three players were on the floor for 27 minutes.

“To come out here and not stick to our defensive principles, it was embarrassing,” said Irving, who led the Cavs with 15 points but went just 6-for-15 from the field while committing four very costly turnovers.

In what was at least a well-rounded performance, Cleveland was equally bad offensively, heating up way too late to finish the game shooting .405 from the field (32-for-79).

Dion Waiters (7 points, 3-for-7 shooting in 25 minutes) and Tyler Zeller (8 points, 2 rebounds in 14 minutes) were the ones who left the locker room sporting pink Barbie backpacks as part of a lighthearted rookie initiation, but no one was really in a joking mood on a night when the Cavs never led and rarely competed.

“We don’t make excuses in this locker room,” Irving said. “We just have to learn from this game and move on.”

In addition to Irving, C.J. Miles finished 3-for-11 from the field and had all eight of his points in a meaningless fourth period, while Gibson was 1-for-4 from the floor and finished with three points and six fouls while giving up about 20 points in 20 minutes.

Luke Walton, meanwhile, was on the floor for 4:26 in the opening half, missed three shots, passed up another, committed two fouls, left to a chorus of boos and never returned to action.

“Our offense was bad,” Scott said.

The Bulls, who put long-armed, 6-foot-9 small forward Luol Deng on Waiters and defended small forward Alonzo Gee (12 points), who rarely posts up, with Hamilton, once again had something to do with Cleveland’s struggles.

Especially early on, Chicago either jumped into passing lanes or forced the ballhandler into traffic, creating a whopping nine first-quarter turnovers that led to a lot of layups at the other end.

“I thought we were going through the motions,” Scott said. “You can’t play the Chicago Bulls and go through the motions. They’re just two good.”

The Bulls — and Cavs — wasted no time setting the tempo for the game, as Chicago forced three quick turnovers to race to a 7-0 lead.

By the end of one period, the Bulls were up 32-16 and shooting a sizzling .737 from the field (14-for-19). The Cavs, whose nine turnovers resulted in 14 Chicago points, were connecting at a .316 clip (6-for-19).

Not one to rest on its laurels, Cleveland made its 10th turnover just 16 seconds into the second quarter and soon found itself down 39-16 with 9:57 to play.

It only got worse the rest of the period, as the Cavs trailed by as many as 28 and needed a Gee 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull within 60-35 at intermission.

The Bulls shot a red-hot .667 from the field (24-for-36) in the first half, while Cleveland connected at a .308 clip (12-for-39).

“You gotta come ready to play and you gotta play hard, especially against good basketball teams,” Scott said. “Chicago’s a good basketball team.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.