At the end of their prolonged road trip, the Cavaliers simply ran out of gas on Saturday night in Chicago – surrendering a 19-point lead after being outscored 31-14 in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland scored 73 points in the first half and hit the century mark by the end of three, but got sloppy down the stretch as the Bulls rallied for the 118-116 win at the United Center, sending the Wine & Gold home with a 2-4 mark on the 11-day sojourn.
The Cavaliers still had a chance to get the win. Cedi Osman drilled a three-pointer with 11.9 seconds to play that got the Cavs to within one. On the Bulls next possession, Luke Kornet threw the ball away giving Cleveland one more shot.
But Kevin Love got a bad angle on the final shot attempt with 2.7 to play, missing the short hook-shot and sealing Cleveland’s fate.
The Cavaliers – who had to travel on Saturday morning because of inclement weather in Chicago – showed the wear and tear of the trip on Saturday night. They committed 26 turnovers, including 10 in the fourth quarter, offsetting their 52 percent shooting from long-range.
All five Cavalier starters notched double-figures – going a combined 15-of-26 from deep – but it was Zach LaVine who got the last laugh, scoring 27 of his 42 points after intermission. In the decisive fourth quarter alone, the former UCLA star scored 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
Love led the way for Cleveland, finishing with 29 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, adding a team-high six assists, five boards, a steal and a blocked shot.
Collin Sexton completed a stellar road trip with 26 points in the loss, going 10-of-17 from the floor, 4-of-6 from deep, adding seven boards and a pair of assists.
Osman was locked in from long-range, adding 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting – including the bomb that got Cleveland back to within one – adding three boards, two assists and a pair of steals.
Darius Garland pitched in with 16 points and five assists, but also was responsible for eight of Cleveland’s miscues.
Tristan Thompson rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures, chipping in with 14 points, eight boards and a game-high three blocks, including two huge swats in the game’s closing moments.
In the fourth quarter, Darius Garland drove to the hoop, got fouled, and threw up a wild shot that went in to keep the Cavs in it.
The third quarter had been Cleveland’s bugaboo through much of the trip, but on Saturday it was the final period.
Cleveland led by as many as 19 points in the third and took a 15-point edge into the fourth. But the Cavaliers would proceed to commit six turnovers in the first four minutes of the period, fueling a 13-2 Bulls run.
Zach LaVine’s triple with 5:10 to play got Chicago to within one and his pull-up jumper on the Bulls next possession gave them their first lead since early in the second quarter. Lauri Markkanen’s fastbreak layup with 2:52 remaining gave the Bulls a lead they would not relinquish.
BY THE NUMBERS
24.0, .489, .517, .929 … Collin Sexton’s scoring average along with his shooting, three-point and free throw percentage over his last five games – topping the 25-point mark in four of those contests.
In 14 December games, the Young Bull shot .111 (3-27) from long-range; through the first 10 games of January, he’s at .480 (24-of-50).
Coach John Beilein, on takeaways from the extended roadie …
”A few quarters in L.A. I mean we played really well. Six games, 24 quarters. Maybe four quarters. Those four quarters really hurt us. It stings to lose this game. Forget about the lead we had. As you know in the NBA leads can go very quickly. We’re just better than 26 turnovers. But we still sometimes get a little bit too anxious and try to do too much.”
CALLS OF THE GAME
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network’s Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega’s Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
After closing out the longest trip of the season, the Wine & Gold return home for three straight – beginning with an MLK Day matinee (5 p.m. ET) against the New York Knicks.
Bradley Beal and the Wizards roll in for a Thursday night affair followed by a Saturday night rematch with the Bulls. Cleveland gets back on the road for one, heading back to Detroit next Monday night.