CLEVELAND: Taj Gibson tied his career high with 26 points and D.J. Augustin tied his season high with 27 points as the injury-riddled Chicago Bulls beat the Cavaliers on Wednesday 98-87 in Luol Deng’s first game against his former team.
The trade of Deng to the Cavs was viewed as Chicago giving up on the season and the Cavs loading up for a push toward the postseason, yet the Bulls are 7-2 since the trade and the Cavs are 3-4 with Deng, who struggled to shoot 2-for-11 and scored 11 points against his former teammates.
Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, including 15 straight in the second quarter, and Dion Waiters scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls pulled away in the final minutes after the Cavs sliced a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to 84-81 with 4:11 left. They were within 91-85 when Deng made a pair of free throws with 1:52 left, but managed one basket the rest of the night.
The Bulls were without Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) and Carlos Boozer (calf), but that has often made little difference in this series. The Bulls were woefully short-handed in the last meeting between these teams last month and still drilled the Cavs by 16. The Bulls took the season series 3-1.
Gibson scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Bulls took control and Augustin, signed just six weeks ago, scored 27 for the second consecutive game. He entered the night averaging 8.9 points and shooting 41 percent, but has averaged 22.5 points and shot 58 percent in two games against Irving and the Cavs.
The Cavs have dropped the first two games on this five-game homestand.