The Bulls performed as expected, giving fuel to the “well, they’re in better shape then like the 2-3 worst franchises in the NBA!” argument as they comfortably won a 104-88 afternoon MLK holiday contest in Cleveland against the Cavs.
Not only are the Cavs the Cavs, they have multiple rotation guys out and were wrapping up their own long road-trip recently. If any game was winnable for the Boylen boys, this was it.
And they did it!
They quickly accumulated a 16 point lead as the Cavs, even when doing something good, would quickly screw it up.
This is what happens when the two worst teams in the league face off against each other. pic.twitter.com/HCW3yBNQki— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 21, 2019
The lead swelled as Bobby Portis hit three 3-pointers in his first stint and earned a technical for staring down Channing Frye. But at least he was on the winning team here, much worse was Cam Payne, once “a young guy in our building who we really like in our culture”, now coming off the bench for the Cavs and hitting a couple shots and staring down the Bulls bench, lol.
The Cavs bench unit that was ‘led’ by Payne (fear not, Payne turned in an overall shitty game, because he’s a shitty NBA player) did cut the deficit down to 6 by halftime as the Bulls turned in a 17 point quarter against one of the statistically worst defenses of all-time.
But in the 3rd, the Cavaliers starting lineup once again fell on their face - sometimes literally - and the Bulls lead crept up over double-digits. A 4th quarter beginning with back-to-back three-pointers from Jabari Parker pretty much ended the day early.
The Bulls shot well from three in this game and on a nice-to-see 40% of total attempts , finishing with nearly identical halves of 7-14 in the first and 8-16 in the second. LaVine tied Portis with 3 makes and had a game-high 25 points. Markkanen also had 3 makes, though had a more modest 11 points overall.
Kris Dunn even hit a three! He was decidedly not a trainwreck unlike the last few games, and was very disruptive defensively, also getting 9 assists. But still more than a few Kris-Dunn-why-tho? decisions on bad shot attempts and sloppy turnovers.
Overall I wouldn’t say this was a great performance by the Bulls, I am sure Boylen will say they showed a ‘toughness’ or something he can’t possibly measure but it really had a lot to do with the opponent, here. Cleveland shot 41% from two and 22% from three, they missed 9 free throws for added spice. They took countless awful shots, led by the Jazz-didn’t-want-them-anymore duo in Rodney Hood and Alec Burks going a combined 2-15 from the field.
So that made the turnover numbers look better than they were, I think. Because, as a team, the Cavs turned it over on over 12% of their possessions. The Bulls were over 17% in this category, but it definitely looked better as they took way better shots.
The Bulls losing streak is over at 10, Boylen can try and take this as a way for his guys to ‘buy-in’, and at least for one game the players aren’t having an existential crisis (or I just haven’t seen it yet?). And the team does have a nice schedule at least for the week: off-days in-between home dates against the Hawks, Clippers, and these sorry-ass Cavaliers again.
Again, Bulls are now going to be 6-0 against the Cavs, Knicks, Hawks, Suns, and 5-36 against everybody else.— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) January 21, 2019