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News » 'D' Bulls top LeBron

'D' Bulls top LeBron

'D' Bulls top LeBronWould you believe the Bulls won for a second straight game because of their -- ahem -- defense?

Believe it.

Despite going scoreless in the last 1:44 and shooting only 40.9 percent, the Bulls squeezed out an 86-85 victory Thursday over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena because they successfully defended a LeBron James drive in the final seconds.

That's right. With Luol Deng and Joakim Noah providing the resistance, the Bulls thwarted a James drive for a potential game-winner and forced a turnover with .2 seconds left.

The Bulls (3-2) had stops on their last three defensive possessions against the Cavaliers (3-3) -- and this comes two days after they had stops on their last two defensive possessions in a two-point victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

''It's good that we're getting some stops when we need to,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said. ''We still need to make some more shots to be more effective and score some more points, but that'll come, I think, as we become comfortable with some other things.

''Excellent win for us. I'm happy for the guys. I was happy more with our energy and our approach and our emphasis, especially the last five or six minutes of the game, to make plays and not get their heads down when they don't make a shot and really get after it defensively.''

The defensive stop was necessary because the Bulls committed a 24-second violation with 4.3 seconds to play. The Cavaliers moved the ball to halfcourt with a timeout, and everyone knew who would take the final shot.

''[James] is a tough cover,'' Deng said. ''I was just trying not to give him a straight line [to the basket], and if he shot the jumper, just contest it.

''I knew my help would be there. He's so good that you have to slow him down on the drive. I knew [Noah] was coming on the help.''

Said Noah: ''I knew by the time he started driving that he didn't have time to pass, so I got off [Shaquille O'Neal]. The best part about it was the call went our way.''

With Noah providing the resistance, James (game-high 25 points) hit his elbow on Noah's chest, and that knocked the ball out of his hands and out of bounds.

The officials reviewed the play to see if the ball was off James and confirmed the call.

''You have to give Chicago credit,'' Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. ''They came in here and gutted it out.''

The game was close throughout. Neither team held a double-digit lead mainly because neither could consistently make shots.

James was fouled on the first possession of the fourth quarter by Kirk Hinrich, but Hinrich took the worst of the blow and was cut on the chin. James made one of two free throws for a 66-63 Cavaliers lead.

Deng (team-high 15 points) then countered with a corner three-pointer to tie the game, and Derrick Rose (14 points, 11 assists) put the Bulls back on top with a layup on a nice pass from Deng to make it 68-66 with 10? minutes left.

After James made two free throws on the next possession, Deng hit an 18-footer and Rose scored on a drive on the fast break for a 72-68 lead with 9? minutes to play. The Bulls held the lead or were tied the rest of the way.

They were able to stretch the lead to six points -- their biggest advantage -- when Brad Miller (10 points) made back-to-back baskets (a jumper and a drive) for an 84-78 lead with 2:36 left.

The Cavs then closed to 84-82 when Mo Williams and James each made two free throws on back-to-back possessions. Rose answered with an eight-foot floater in the lane, but then James made a three-pointer to trim the Bulls' lead to 86-85 with 1:34 to go.


Bulls 25 21 17 23--86

Cleveland 27 16 22 20--85

Bulls min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

Deng 38:48 6-16 2-2 0-7 3 0 15

TGibson 33:47 5-12 1-2 2-7 0 1 11

Noah 27:23 2-5 3-4 2-11 1 2 7

Rose 32:33 6-15 2-2 1-2 11 1 14

Salmons 37:06 6-13 1-1 1-4 2 1 14

Hinrich 24:35 4-8 0-1 0-6 4 2 9

Miller 22:21 4-9 2-2 0-3 1 5 10

Thomas 12:25 3-6 0-0 0-1 0 2 6

Pargo 11:02 0-4 0-0 0-2 1 1 0

Totals 240 36-88 11-14 6-43 23 15 86

Percentages: FG .409, FT .786. 3-Point Goals: 3-10, .300 (Deng 1-1, Hinrich 1-1, Salmons 1-4, Pargo 0-2, Rose 0-2). Team Rebounds: 8. Team Turnovers: 7 (10 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Deng, T.Gibson, Salmons, Thomas). Turnovers: 6 (Hinrich 4, Rose 2). Steals: 8 (Miller 2, Salmons 2, T.Gibson, Hinrich, Noah, Rose). Technical Fouls: Defensive three second, 3:49 first.

Cavs min fg-a ft-a o-t a pf pts

LJames 38:13 9-17 6-9 0-7 6 0 25

Varejao 34:46 5-7 2-4 1-13 0 3 12

O'Neal 31:12 7-13 0-0 0-10 1 2 14

MWilliams 33:02 4-13 2-3 0-2 6 3 11

Parker 35:10 4-9 0-0 1-4 3 2 11

West 26:38 1-5 0-0 0-2 5 1 2

Ilgauskas 21:09 0-9 2-4 6-8 0 4 2

DGibson 16:31 3-4 0-0 0-1 0 2 8

Hickson 3:18 0-4 0-0 1-2 0 0 0

Totals 240 33-81 12-20 9-49 21 17 85

Percentages: FG .407, FT .600. 3-Point Goals: 7-18, .389 (Parker 3-3, D.Gibson 2-3, L.James 1-4, M.Williams 1-7, West 0-1). Team Rebounds: 11. Team Turnovers: 12 (12 PTS). Blocked Shots: 8 (O'Neal 5, Ilgauskas, L.James, Parker). Turnovers: 12 (L.James 3, O'Neal 3, Hickson, Ilgauskas, Parker, Varejao, West, M.Williams). Steals: 4 (Parker 2, L.James, Varejao). Technical Fouls: Defensive three second, 5:58 third.

Officials--Ron Garretson, Michael Smith, Eli Roe. A--20,562. T--2:32.


After flying to Cleveland on his own earlier in the day, forward Tyrus Thomas, who missed the last two days with the flu, rejoined the Bulls and had six points in 12 minutes off the bench in the 86-85 victory Thursday over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

''I told Tyrus, I thanked him for coming in,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said. ''I know he's not feeling well. He comes in and gives us a couple of baskets,

some rotation stuff. All those

little things help.'' ... Rookie

Taj Gibson (11 points, seven rebounds) started at power forward, and Thomas entered the game with 2:50 left in the first quarter. ... Thomas said he was feeling much better Thursday.

He said he decided to fly to Cleveland after being examined by a Bulls physician in the morning. ''I went to see Kathy Weber,'' he said. ''She released me. She told me I was cool.'' When asked before the game if he expected to play, Thomas said, ''I'm here to support the team, however it is. Cheer, play, whatever. That's what I'm here for.'' ... Guard Kirk Hinrich received three stitches on his chin after the game. Hinrich was elbowed by LeBron James as he tried to draw a charge early in the fourth quarter. ... With the Cavaliers playing in New York tonight, James was asked if he was ready for the barrage of questions from the New York media concerning his future plans. His contract is up after this season, and James can become an unrestricted free agent. The Knicks have cleared a ton of room under the salary cap to make a run at him. All James will say is he's leaving his options open. ... With the Bulls in town, someone asked him if he ever thought about playing for them. ''I've thought about playing everywhere,'' he said. ''Every team in the NBA, I've thought about playing for at one time in my life.''

John Jackson

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