After their impressive full-out performance against Miami over the weekend, there was some worry that would the Bulls would suffer an emotion/energy/focus/whateverhappens letdown against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs aren't good and were missing a few rotation players including Anderson Varejao, but we've seen the Bulls lose to bad teams before this season. The beginning of the game was playing out that way with the Bulls starting 0/5 from the field and the Cavs playing effectively-fast-if-sloppy basketball. But Chicago then quickly overcame that early 10-point deficit and then kept changing gears until it was a full-fledged blowout.
The play from the bench in the second quarter really turned things around for the Bulls, as they outscored Cleveland (who has a notably sorry bench) 31-20 in that quarter. Marco Belinelli had 15 first-half points on both three-pointers and a couple euro-step-y drives to the rim. Taj Gibson supplemented that with 11 points of his own, scored almost exclusively in the paint.
And then in the 3rd quarter, the starters kept the good times rolling. They played nearly that entire period together and outscored the Cavs 35-22. Before you knew it, the Bulls were up 16 to start the 4th, and winning everyone in the United Center a free Big Mac with 6:30 remaining in the game. Marquis Teague, Vlad Radmanovic, and new signee Daquan Cook even saw minutes on the floor tonight.
It was domination in nearly every aspect. The Bulls shot an amazing 10-14 from three point range. They scored 54 points in the paint. They were 20-24 from the line. Like their win in Miami (which, if you remember, was after a season low-point on the boards) the Bulls destroyed on the offensive glass with 44% of offensive rebounds.
Carlos Boozer continued his fine 2013 with 24 points on 8-16 shooting (and he started poorly!), and you'd have to strain to find a Bulls regular who didn't play great. Deng had 19 points on 12 shots, Nate and Kirk were 5-7 from three, Noah had 4 blocks and 7 offensive rebounds, and Jimmy Butler's one field goal was a crazy reverse layup.
For the Cavs, they had a good night shooting threes as well (7-14), but outside of that and some quality stretches from Tristan Thompson (by far his best showing against Chicago in his young career), they couldn't hang with the Bulls and ultimately were undone in the face of a barrage of 3-pointers and dunks. Cleveland was a mess when Kyrie Irving wasn't on the floor, but the Cavs PG wasn't much of a factor when he played either (and injured his ankle in the 2nd with the game already slipping away). Irving only had 15 points as the legend of Kirk 'Kyrie Kryptonite' Hinrich rode again. And I'll even buy Kurt legend-making on an evening like this.