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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Game 26: Cavs at Bulls

United Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Bulls had lost four in a row overall and at home. They had lost 12 of their last 16 games coming into Saturday's contest..

But that was before the Cavs came to town. Everything that ailed them went out the window. They didn't have leading scorer Luol Deng? Big deal.

They were also missing Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler? Made no difference.

The Bulls promoted reserve players into the starting lineup and they exploited the Cavs' defense. The Bulls shot 53.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the 3-point line. In other words, it didn't show up.

We can blame this on the fact that shooting guard Dion Waiters didn't play. But that would not be accurate. They didn't come in with the right frame of mind. This was a team the Cavs should have had success against, especially with the Bulls missing so many key performers.

They signed free agent D.J. Augustin on Dec. 13 and he has moved into the starting lineup with the back injury to Hinrich. What did he do? Record season highs in points (18), rebounds (5) and assists (10).

The Cavs dropped to 2-12 on the road this season. There's no reason why they are this bad on the road. But they are a completely different team at home and on the road. On the road, you have to play with fire. This team doesn't.

The Cavs handled the Bulls in the last meeting on Nov. 30, 97-93, as center Andrew Bynum was dominant with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and five blocks. He was the last Cavs player to block five shots since J.J. Hickson on Feb. 25, 2011.

Bynum hasn't been playing up to that capability for quite some time. He showed up on Saturday with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Bulls center Joakim Noah responded after a poor performance against Bynum in the last matchup. Noah tied his season high with 18 rebounds and 11 points.

The difference in the game might have been rookie shooting guard Tony Snell, who finished with 17 points on 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Wouldn't it be nice to have a rookie do something for your team? 

One wants to be patient with the Cavs' rookie class, but it's been a major disappointment thus far. Their best rookie, by far, has been Matthew Dellavedova, who had 10 points, four assists and two blocks on Saturday. He wasn't even drafted.

The other three rookies - Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix - have done nothing to make me believe they belong in the NBA.

The Bulls have had injuries all season. However, power forward Carlos Boozer got off to a fantastic start and then hit the wall. He's been on a terrible streak as of late. In fact, Boozer, though, was very good against the Cavs with 19 points and nine rebounds. Taj Gibson has been their best power forward.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Detroit at 7 p.m. Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Mike Dunleavy (6-9, 230)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Carlos Boozer (6-9, 266)
C Andrew Bynum (7-0, 294) vs. Joakim Noah (6-11, 232)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Tony Snell (6-7, 200)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. D.J. Augustin (6-0, 183)
Cavs - F Anthony Bennett, G Dion Waiters
Bulls - G Derrick Rose
Zach Zarba, Matt Boland, Ben Taylor


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