Bulls take control early against Cavaliers
Marco Belinelli scored a season-high 23 points, Luol Deng added 22 and the Chicago Bulls took control early on to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 95-85 on Wednesday night.
Belinelli, starting his second straight game in place of injured shooting guard Richard Hamilton, helped the Bulls bounce back from a four-point home loss to Indiana on Tuesday.
Chicago went ahead for good less than two minutes in and shot 66.7 percent in the first quarter.
The Cavaliers have lost 13 of 15 and are 2-7 since point guard Kyrie Irving broke his left index finger last month. Anderson Varejao recorded his 10th straight double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds — his 10th straight game with at least 15 boards.
Donald Sloan scored a season-high 14 points to lead Cleveland.
All five Chicago starters reached double figures. Joakim Noah had 13 points and 15 rebounds, Kirk Hinrich scored 11, and Carlos Boozer had 10 points and 12 boards.
Belinelli scored only six points in 24 minutes Tuesday but was 7-for-15 from the field against the Cavs, who have dropped 10 consecutive games against Chicago.
Both teams were shorthanded in the backcourt. The Bulls again played without Hamilton, who sustained a left plantar fascia tear in Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. He missed Tuesday night’s game and could be sidelined for two weeks.
Chicago, which moved one game over .500, has played the entire season without point guard Derrick Rose, who underwent reconstructive surgery on his left knee during last season’s playoffs.
Cleveland played without Irving and Dion Waiters, its two leading scorers. Waiters missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Cleveland was plagued by a slow start for the second straight game. The Cavaliers led 4-3, but it didn’t take long for the Bulls to seize control. Chicago led 19-8 with just over four minutes to play in the quarter. The Bulls were 12 of 18 from the field in the period and led 27-11 going into the second quarter.
Cleveland trailed 30-17 after one quarter in Tuesday’s loss to Detroit. The Bulls built a 45-27 lead, but the Cavaliers scored the last eight points of the quarter to trail by 10 at halftime. Cleveland cut the lead to five but trailed 72-63 going into the fourth quarter.
Noah was hit with a technical for arguing a foul call against teammate Taj Gibson in the fourth quarter. Cleveland guard Jeremy Pargo was also given a technical for throwing the ball off Belinelli’s face later in the quarter.