Bulls win battle of baddies
Cavs’ recent record plummets to 1-16
Somebody was bound to break a long skid Monday — Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls seized the opportunity.
LaVine scored 25 points and the Bulls broke a 10-game losing streak, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-88 in a meeting of teams that began the day with the worst records in the NBA.
“It stinks to lose 10 in row,” said guard Kris Dunn, who scored 13 points and was one of five Bulls to hit double figures. “A game like this can galvanize us.”
Chicago (11-36) never trailed and has won all three games this season against Cleveland (9-39), which has lost 16 of 17 overall.
“We talked about the first quarter starts,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “Our energy and spirit were good, kind of gave us momentum into the rest of the game.”
The Bulls hit 15 of 29 3-pointers and built a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter. Chicago won for the first time since Dec. 28 against Washington.
Bobby Portis had 15 points while Lauri Markkanen added 13 for the Bulls, who have rolled to two lopsided wins at Cleveland in less than a month.
The Bulls defeated the Cavaliers 99-98 in Chicago on Nov. 10 and routed Cleveland 112-92 on Dec. 23 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Rookie Collin Sexton scored 18 points, but had no assists in 29 minutes for the Cavaliers. Ante Zizic, who is seeing playing time because of injuries in Cleveland’s frontcourt, had 13 points.
Chicago hit 12 of 22 shots in the first quarter and built a 15-point lead late in the period. Cleveland cut into the margin and trailed by six at halftime before the Bulls regained control by making five 3-pointers in the third quarter.
“We got a lot from a lot of guys,” Boylen said. “Kris was very good. Zach was real efficient, which we need him to be.”
The Cavaliers, in addition to dealing with several injuries, looked like a tired team after going 1-5 on a road trip that ended Saturday night in Denver. Cleveland missed its first eight shots and coach Larry Drew called timeout less than four minutes into the game.
“I’m not going to use that as an excuse or as crutch,” Drew said. “Early on, I could see they did not have their legs. We clearly didn’t have the zap. I really thought at some point it would kick in, but we did not have it.”