Despite playing a major portion of the season without the reigning MVP, the Chicago Bulls still escaped the regular season unscathed.
John Lucas III scored a career-high 25 points, Joakim Noah had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and the Bulls clinched the top overall seed in the NBA playoffs with a 107-75 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.
Tristan Thompson scored 13 points for the Cavaliers, who lost four straight games to end the season, their second straight last-place finish in the Central Division.
Kyrie Irving, who had a late-season sprained right shoulder and is recovering from the flu, did not play.
“Well, the season is over. Now we can get down to real business [evaluating]. I feel like we’re in a great position with a lot of flexibility,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said.
Derrick Rose sat for the 27th time in 66 games this season. He has missed games with a bad back, sore groin, sprained ankle and the latest a foot injury, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose will be ready for the playoffs and he is encouraged how Hamilton has played after returning from a shoulder injury.
“I think Derrick has been better than he has in a while and Rip (Hamilton) has gotten his legs under him,” said Thibodeau.
Antawn Jamison, who will become a free agent, scored 12 points in what likely will be his final game for Cleveland. The Cavs finished the season with a 21-45 record compared to last season’s 19-63 record.
It’s been a tough year,” said Jamison. “After last year, we couldn’t do anything but get better.”