Bulls 100, Cavs 95
--The Cavs felt the media more than the Bulls felt the Cavs tonight. In the locker after the game two different players got stepped on my media members (none of them me, luckily) including one that caused Daniel Gibson to utter the first curse word I've ever heard out of his mouth. That was more pain than they inflicted on the Bulls, who had themselves a dunkfest while the Cavs stood and watched. It got so bad at one point that Dwayne Jones was giving instructions to teammates during a timeout to "Go (blank) those guys up." Lance Allred heard him but the rest of the Cavs didn't, just like Mike Brown's pleas. Maybe Dwayne should've gone in there himself. --This season, 17 percent of Joakim Noah's baskets have come on layups or dunks. Tonight all four of them came on layups and dunks and he also got to the foul line 13 times. 14 percent of Tyrus Thomas' baskets come on layups and dunks, tonight four of his nine baskets were on them. The Bulls have scored over 100 points twice in the last six games...guess who they were against? --Mike Brown was in rare form after the game, here are his quotes. He only took like three questions, he said all he needed to say:
"Something's gotta change for us to go into the playoffs the right way. Because right we will get our behinds kicked if we are not focused and not trying to play the right way...Our help defense is awful. Right now we are really a passive team, nobody feels us, it evident by the Bulls getting dunk after dunk. After somebody gets a dunk or two, you'd hope the next time somebody comes down the lane he's not getting a dunk even if I have to give up my body. That did not happen tonight and that is disappointing...LeBron got hot, he had whatever he had in the first quarter, and then everybody stood and watched. We have to get some movement to generate something offensively."
--This has been the case on several occasions this season, a great offensive spurt by LeBron ended up hurting the Cavs in the long run. Why? Because for whatever reason, the Cavs shut down when LeBron gets hot. In the first quarter, when he went 10-of-10, seven of those baskets were assisted. Which actually meant the Cavs were running plays for him to get hot. He only had one more assisted basket the rest of the game. He was part of the problem, he didn't get his first assist until there were five minutes left in the game. The Elias Sports Bureau is currently looking up if he set some sort of dribbling record. OK, that's a joke, but if you watched the game you get my point. The blame is shared, Mike Brown has to get them to run something, the players have to move and LeBron has to play ball. This, however, is a recurring problem because the Cavs don't have an offensive system that LeBron trusts and often he'll just stop everything. --The Cavs can complain about a lot of things going wrong for them this season, but there is no explaining this: They have nine losses against the Nets, Bulls and Bucks. --I re-state my case for Joe Smith getting more plays called for him, especially in halfcourt sets. He had 20 points tonight on 9-of-16 shooting 53 percent as a Cav. --Anderson Varejao complained earlier in the season that he doesn't like being compared to Joakim Noah because people just assume they are alike because of their hair. Well, I know why he wants to avoid it now. Look at these stats in their three meetings with each other, when they both spent a lot of time guarding each other: Varejao 2.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 22 percent shooting (4-of-18); Noah 13.3 points, 12.3 rebounds 46 percent shooting (13-of-28).
--Over the weekend, I will be filling out my ballot for NBA Annual Awards. This season I was given the full range of votes from Coach and Rookie of the Year to the All-NBA Team, Most Improved, Defensive Player of the Year and, of course, Most Valuable Player. As in the past, I will post my full ballot here because I think you shouldn't be afraid to say who you voted for. For the most part, I have made all the major decisions. But it should still be a good conversation piece come early next week.
Cavs: Delonte West, Devin Brown, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Bulls: Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah
Officials Jim Clark, James Capers, Eli Roe
--It will be interesting to see if the Cavs keep up the momentum from the way they played the other night. As I have written on here many times before, the Bulls are a jump shot team and if you contest the jumpers you will do will. --Chicago is also a good offensive rebounding team, keeping them off the glass is important. Ben Wallace played very well against them in Cleveland last week, it was one of the reasons the Cavs got such a big lead in that game. --The Pistons are playing the Wizards at home tonight. While they are resting their players, it will still be a tough game for them. If the Cavs are able to get a win here tonight, and the Bulls haven't won since they were in Cleveland, then they may be able to virtually lock up the No. 4 seed. Then again, it could easily go the other way. --Since going 11-of-17 in Cleveland, Larry Hughes has gone 11-of-30 from the field.
Halftime -- Bulls 53, Cavs 47
--LeBron put on quite a show in the first quarter, making 10 straight shots and scoring 24 points. But as we have seen in the past, these scoring binges are not always the best thing for the team. Often it seems to knock them out of rhythm, because the priorities change. In the second quarter the Cavs went 3-of-18 from the floor, primarily because they were forced to play halfcourt offense. Against a shrink the floor defensive team like the Bulls, they will not be successful in the half court very often. Especially when they are limited to jumpers. The Cavs scored just six points in the paint in the second. --The Bulls are having too much success on the inside for the Cavs to win the game. Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas can't be able to get to the rim. Playing Devin Brown on Deng is no good in my opinion, because he can just post him up. LeBron has to defend him. If Ben Gordon makes 3-pointers with hands in his face, then you live with those. But the Cavs allowed the Bulls 22 points in the paint in the first half, which is too many if you want to beat them. Considering this team has one win in the last 10 games, and it's against the Cavs, it was a pretty weak effort. With the Cavs, though, who knows how they will play on defense in the second half. --If the Cavs are concerned with LeBron's back, you wouldn't know it. Mike Brown broke with tradition and let him start the second quarter because he had the hot hand. That is fine, it is the smart move when you have a hot player. But still, it is not what they had been doing. --Sometimes I think all the attention hecklers have gotten for getting on LeBron encourages them. After LeBron missed a jumper in the second quarter to go 10-of-12 in the game, a guy in the first row got on him about taking a bad shot. LeBron said: "Have you been watching what is going on?"
Stars Tyrus Thomas, 20 points, 14 rebounds Joakim Noah, 17 points, 11 rebounds Luol Deng, 21 points LeBron James, 34 points Joe Smith, 20 points
Quotes See above