Bulls (1-0): 97
Cavs (0-1): 95
In the year in which defense would be the question mark, and offense was going to lead this newly lead Bulls teams to victories, it was in fact the defense that came through for the Bulls in the final 10 seconds of their Tuesday season opener.
With Chicago up two with just 10 seconds to go, LeBron James drove to the basket and was met by Pau Gasol who sent his attempted layup sailing out-of-bounds. On the pursuing inbounds play, Chicago played the Cavs offensive strategy to perfection. LeBron attempted to roll to the basket off of a double screen, in which Jimmy Butler fought through and was able to poke away the attempted inbound pass from Mo Williams with just over 3 seconds left to secure the win.
Leading up to the final moments of the game, Chicago dominated Cleveland. Up by as much as 13 at times. The Bulls took the lead for 3/4 of the game. It was during the final minute of play that the game was in question for Chicago. Up 97-89 with 1:15 left, Kevin Love would come to life and hit back to back 3 point shots closing the gap to 97-95 with 32 seconds left. Rose missed a 18 foot jumper at the top of the key that came up short with 10 seconds left, giving the Cleveland one last shot to tie the game.
Derrick Rose was strong early. Never altering his game or settling for jump shots like he did so often in recent years. He attacked the basket, although only going 5 for 15 in the painted area, it was refreshing to see he has his sights set on not being a shooter from behind the arc. For now. Rose would finish 8-12 from the field with 18 points and 5 assists.
Nikola Mirotic led the way for Chicago in scoring. After Cleveland jumped out to a 12-6 lead, it was Niko who would score back to back three pointers and cut into Clevelands deficit. Mirotic’s ability to knock down open jumpers helps spread the floor for this starting unit. Making Fred Hoiberg’s decision to start him look genius. Niko would finish with 19 points on 6/11 shooting (3/4 from three) to go along with 9 rebounds in 25 minutes of play.
Jimmy Butler had the task of guarding LeBron James for most of the night. Although Hoiberg did something that Chicago fans haven’t seen for some time. Fred threw different defenders at LeBron while Jimmy was on the floor. Jimmy was a bit off this game, but when the game was on the line he would deliver a nice 16 foot baseline jumper with just over a minute left to give the Bulls a 97-89 lead. Butler went 6/14 from the field with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Tony Snell would contribute 11 points on some key buckets throughout the game. Doug McDermott came off the bench and dropped 8 points going 3/4 from the field. While E’Twaun Moore led the Chicago attack off the bench with 11 points.
James: 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists
M. Williams: 19 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds
K. Love: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
Notables: Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol combined for just 2 points for the Bulls. Pau looked tired and complacent on offensive, but was a solid presence inside on defense. Joakim Noah would suffer a knee scare after knocking knees with Richard Jefferson in the 4th quarter. He wouldn’t return to action and is questionable for tonight’s game vs Brooklyn.
Rose continues to suffer from double vision out of his left eye, and claimed he plays most of the game with his left eye closed to keep from seeing 3 baskets. No timetable on when the double vision will subside.