CHICAGO: On the night Andrew Bynum made his first start of the season, top overall pick Anthony Bennett didn’t get off the bench and Kyrie Irving received an earful from his head coach.
Other than that, it was just another road loss for a team still searching for its first win away from home.
Bynum set season highs in minutes, points and rebounds, but the Chicago Bulls pulled away over the game’s final five minutes for a 96-81 win over the Cavs.
It was the first head-to-head matchup between the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving and the Bulls’ Derrick Rose, but it ultimately failed to meet expectations. Irving had 16 points and four assists, but missed his first six shots and didn’t get his first basket until the final minute of the third quarter. He ended the night 5 of 19, further lowering his anemic shooting percentage to 38 percent for the season.
Coach Mike Brown subbed him out with 3:13 left in the first quarter, then followed him down to the end of the bench and gave him an earful for the better part of a minute.
“There was a lot going on. It’s between he and I, but there was a lot going on,” Brown said. “Not just with him, but with the whole team.”
Irving didn’t offer any further details.
“Just a conversation with my coach,” he said. “That’s about it.”
Brown was aggravated the starters didn’t do a better job of involving Bynum in the offense, which clearly was the intended goal of moving him into the lineup. He finished with 11 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
“We don’t know how to play with a guy like that,” Brown said. “I thought almost every time he touched it on the block, something good happened. The easiest shot we had in the whole game, the ball went to him, they doubled, he kicked it to Dion (Waiters) for a wide open 3 on the weak side. But we don’t understand that yet. Hopefully we will soon.”
Brown made the lineup switch without practicing it first. Instead, he held a two-hour shootaround Monday morning and reiterated that right now, a lot of the Cavs practices are held during games while guys learn each other.
Bynum said his game doesn’t really change by becoming a starter, but it changes for the players around him.
“That’s just something we’re going to have to go over in practice. I’m not too familiar with all the plays they’ve put in and vice versa,” Bynum said. “I think we have a good practice planned for (Tuesday). We’ll work a lot on the offensive end. We were a little bit stagnant today, especially with me being out there.”
The Cavs trailed for much of the night, but remained within 78-75 on a basket from Irving with 4:55 left when the Bulls took over. The Bulls scored 13 of the game’s next 15 points, including seven from Mike Dunleavy, and the Bulls extended the lead to double figures in little more than a minute.
“They just mentally and physically did what they wanted to do to us,” Brown said. “When we hit adversity tonight, we didn't handle it well. Chicago got up in us and tried to take us out of our stuff.”
Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Dion Waiters had 13 points and six turnovers.
Rose had 16 points and seven assists on 8 of 21 shooting.
Bennett was not listed as an injured player prior to the game and the Cavs said he was available to play, but Brown said he sat him all night because his shoulder was still bothering him. Bennett sprained his shoulder in Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but returned to play at home in Saturday’s win.
“His shoulder was bothering him in the last game some so I decided to sit him,” Brown said. “He may play next game, he may not. I wanted to give Henry (Sims) a shot, I thought Henry played well, too. I wanted to give Henry a shot.”
The Cavs will practice in Chicago on Tuesday before flying to Minneapolis. They’ll face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.