CHICAGO – The Bulls haven’t just had the Cavaliers’ number. They have taken that number and done outlandish offensive things with it, winning the previous 11 meetings by an average of 17.8 points.
But not even the return of Kirk Hinrich could stop the Bulls from losing to the Cavaliers for the first time since March 19, 2010. Dion Waiters’ 25 points led five Cavaliers in double figures in the unlikely 101-98 triumph.
The Bulls were outplayed in all the hustle areas they often dominate. The Cavs enjoyed advantages of 39-34 in rebounds and 22-18 in second-chance points.
Is now the time to mention the Cavaliers played without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving?
“If you do things with low energy, whether it’s offense or defense, it’s going to lead to problems,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The Bulls trimmed a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit to one before Waiters calmly sank a jumper. Then Irving’s stand-in, Shaun Livingston, set up Luke Walton’s jumper with 81 seconds left.
The Bulls hung around, getting a gift call with 62 seconds left. Waiters got called for holding Jimmy Butler, who sank both free throws.
After Waiters missed a free throw, Deng missed a jumper and Walton rebounded. The Bulls fouled with 15.8 seconds left and Livingston sank both free throws.
Carlos Boozer’s 27 points led the Bulls. Deng added 26, and Hinrich stuffed the box score with 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.