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Cleveland Cavaliers

Final thoughts: Cavs 101, Bulls 98

By Jason Lloyd Published: February 27, 2013
Speights drives vs Bulls
The Bulls' Joakim Noah slaps the ball from the hands of Marreese Speights during the second quarter Tuesday in Chicago.(AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

CHICAGO: Final thoughts from a stunning win and a surprisingly successful road trip...

* Byron Scott told the players before this trip that they should take 2 out of 3. Remember, one of those games was against the defending champs and another was against a team that has destroyed the Cavs every game over the last three seasons. 

* But the Cavs should have swept this trip. That's a credit to them and the growth of this team over the last month. 

* Tuesday's victory assured the Cavs of at least a .500 record in the month of February, the first time that has happened under Scott. A victory Wednesday at home against the Toronto Raptors would be their first winning month since March 2010. 

* Since the start of January, the Cavs are 12-13. That's the ninth-best record in the East. Here are the full Eastern Conference standings since Jan. 1, compliments of Elias Sports Bureau: 

Miami Heat, 20-6 (.769)

Indiana Pacers, 18-8 (.692)

Brooklyn Nets, 18-9 (.667)

Boston Celtics, 16-11 (.593)

Chicago Bulls, 16-12 (.571)

New York Knicks, 12-11 (.522)

Washington Wizards, 14-13 (.519)

Atlanta Hawks, 13-13 (.500)

Cleveland Cavaliers, 12-13 (.480)

 

* All of that is just a long-winded way of declaring this team is making real progress. To beat the Bulls tonight and do it without Kyrie Irving is rather remarkable. The Bulls have their own issues right now, but this is a team that has bludgeoned the Cavs by an average of 27 points in the previous six meetings. 

* Scott has referenced the 'wounded animal" a few times this season. The Cavs never seem to play well when the opponent is missing its best player or a collection of players. I think the reverse of that was true tonight. Given their past success against the Cavs and the fact Irving was missing, I think the Bulls dismissed the Cavs tonight and it cost them. 

* Joakim Noah was a non-factor. Yes, he grabbed nine rebounds, but the Bulls were beaten to loose balls and critical rebounds they (meaning he) normally grab. 

* Luke Walton might be my favorite player on this team. He's going to shoot some air balls and he's a bit of a liability on defense, but he has an incredible basketball mind and he's probably one of the most underrated passers in the league. 

* The steal he made near the end of the game off the inbounds pass was one of the best defensive plays you'll see a guy make. Walton said he gambled a bit because Scott told him the Bulls were out of timeouts. He knew they had to get the ball in and they were nearing a five-second call, which allowed him to intercept Carlos Boozer's pass and fire it off Kirk Hinrich's leg. Just a spectacular play.

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