LeBron James attacked from the start and scored 33 points, Kyrie Irving added 21 and the Cleveland Cavaliers evened their semifinal series with Chicago with a 106-91 victory over the Bulls in Game 2 on Wednesday night. Donning his signature headband for the first time in two months and powering to the basket, James kept the Cavs from falling into a 2-0 hole. He added eight rebounds and five assists for Cleveland, which led by 25 in the third quarter and withstood a third-quarter charge by the Bulls. For the second straight game, the Cavs were without forward Kevin Love (shoulder surgery) and J.R. Smith (two-game suspension).
A lack of consistent playing time can send a young player into a funk, but Tony Snell claims not to care how much he's on the floor. ''All that matters is that I've got to stay ready,'' Snell said. If not, cheer my team on.'' The second-year guard was ready Tuesday night, pumping in a career-high 24 points on 9 for 11 shooting to help the Chicago Bulls to a 104-86 rout of the Sacramento Kings. I've got to make sure I'm ready when my name gets called.'' Pau Gasol continued his strong play with 26 points and 16 rebounds - his NBA-best 34th double-double of the season and 13th straight - and Derrick Rose added 23 points in a turnover-free performance.
The Chicago Bulls are feeling good about themselves as they head toward the playoffs. Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Pau Gasol had 18 and the Bulls beat Toronto 116-103 on Wednesday night for their fifth consecutive victory over the Raptors. ''The more he plays, that rhythm will come back,'' Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. Obviously we need him on both sides of the ball.'' Tony Snell scored 17 points as the Bulls moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Raptors for third in the Eastern Conference.
The Chicago Bulls got a positive update on Derrick Rose, and then used another big night by Jimmy Butler to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-89 on Friday. Butler had 28 points and 12 rebounds and Chicago won for the seventh time in its last nine games. Mike Dunleavy made five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points, and Joakim Noah finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. The Bulls trailed 85-84 before Kirk Hinrich drove inside for a layup with 4:29 remaining, and then Tony Snell made a smart pass to Dunleavy for an open 3 that made it 89-85.
Tony Snell scored 20 points, Nikola Mirotic had 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, and the surging Chicago Bulls pounded the Milwaukee Bucks on the boards on their way to an 87-71 victory on Monday night. Pau Gasol added 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Bulls enjoyed a whopping 62-41 advantage on the glass. Joakim Noah had eight points and 16 rebounds on his bobblehead night, and Jimmy Butler finished with 11 points and nine boards. Milwaukee shot 34 percent (30 for 89) from the field in its second straight loss after a stretch of nine wins in 10 games.
Derrick Rose scored 30 points, and the Chicago Bulls handed Cleveland just its second loss in 16 games, beating the Cavaliers 113-98 Thursday night. Pau Gasol added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Tony Snell scored 22, helping offset a 31-point performance by LeBron James, and Bulls sent another strong signal that their recent struggles might be behind them. They won their fourth straight after dropping 10 of 15 and entered the All-Star break with a 1 1/2-game lead in the Central division over the Cavaliers.
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