(HT: Erik Daniel Drost)
Bulls 115, Cavs 86
The Bulls went into Cleveland and came away with about as good of a performance as one could possibly ask for. The Bulls were up 60-35 at the half, scoring about as many points in the paint as the Cavs had points, period.
The pace was frenetic early on, with Cleveland turnovers and long rebounds turning the Bulls into the Nash era Suns. Hinrich, for all the sarcastic comments that the Internet will lob his way, is actually pretty good at running the break. The Bulls rode this early wave of transition basketball, which yielded two Boozer dunks, to a comfortable lead that they never relinquished.
The Bulls were active defensively, as usual, and the Cavs were left to throwing up horrible shots from outside, often leading to long rebounds and the running of the Bulls. The Bulls jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, and although the Cavs kept it sort of close for a little while after hitting some shots early on, the game was a blowout for most of the first half.
Boozer was once again in top form, although this is something we've all seen before re: Boozer's performances against bad teams. With that said, the Bulls have played two games, and Boozer has performed admirably in both.
Most importantly, with Kirk Hinrich playing un-ironically tough, gritty defense on Kyrie Irving, the Cavs offense was about as effective as Michigan's is when Denard can't find daylight. I was a bit skeptical, but Kirk had a stellar game on D, as Irving was forced to pound the rock far more often he would ordinarily need to on his way to a decent shot. A gold star for Mr. Hinrich.
In perhaps the most amusing developments of the game, Luke Walton was matched up on Taj Gibson for a period of time, and it was truly like watching a big brother toy with a little brother in a game of driveway basketball. Walton had no way of getting around Gibson to front and when Gibson went on the move, Walton simply could not keep up. This lead to easy buckets and trips to the FT line for the newly extended Gibson. Honestly, I'm kind of surprised that Walton is still in the league, let alone logging non-garbage time minutes. But, then again, I'm just a guy.
It was 60-35 at the half. The Bulls were simply dominant on both ends through two quarters, and the goal of the second half was simply to not pull a Grizzlies during their DERPocalyptic Game 1 performance against the Clippers in April.
However, after letting up a bit near the end of their game against Sacramento on Wednesday, seeing the Bulls completely and utterly crush an opponent from start to finish was an encouraging sight. With another contest against a bad team coming tomorrow night at the United Center against New Orleans, the Bulls should be looking at a nice and tidy 3-0 start to this Rose-less campaign.
BULLets, Sponsored by "I See What You Did There, Inc.":
- Another humorous moment: an attempted alley oop from Boozer to Nate Robinson, who sort of just bumped into Tristan Thompson and then proceeded to look outraged when he didn't get the foul call. Alley oop. Nate Robinson. That happened.
- The Masked Man. Rip Hamilton was deservedly maligned last season after being a splashy free agent signing (well, for the Bulls, that is) and spending much of the season injured or on the bench in key situations, when Thibodeau seemed to favor Kyle Korver. However, Hamilton has been stellar thus far. He caught fire late in the third quarter, which I'm pretty sure correlated directly with several minutes of technical difficulty from CSN.
- Just to drive the point home further...the Bulls were up 83-56 through three quarters, and they accomplished that with only 5 offensive boards (i.e. rebounding 25% of their misses). That really goes to show you how dominating of a performance this was: they didn't even really need second chance points. Another remarkable thing? It's a few minutes into the fourth quarter as I write this and the Bulls have only attempted six treys.
- The Cavs, they are bad. This Cavs team beat the Wizards by 10, so...if this were the EPL, Washington would so be Queens Park Rangers.
- Complaints, I guess. If I have to say anything negative it will be extremely quibbling, but: 1) Belinelli displayed a laughable olé defense against Gee in the first half that led to a wide open layup 2) the Bulls seem to struggle at post entry and 3) okay I can't even think of one that isn't "Kirk Hinrich is not Derrick Rose."