They spoke of Andrew Bynum as someone who is never going to be the same with the damage done to his knees. Dion Waiters was mentioned as someone who wants to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and hates playing with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. It was those two leading the Cavs to a 97-93 win over the clueless, as of now, Chicago Bulls.
Bynum had, without a doubt, the best game since returning to action with the Cavs, He finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 assists. That’s the first time someone has pulled off that stat line for Cleveland since Shawn Kemp in 2000, and it’s only the 4th time in Bynum’s career with that kind of production, the first in over four years.
Waiters was more focused on the scoring, also finishing with 20 points coming off the bench, although the Cavs were losing by nine points when he was on the court. Kyrie Irving added 19 on an awful 7-of-21 shooting night, as the Cavs ended a five-game losing streak against a team that was sure their troubles were behind them, but clearly have a long way to go before they get over the injury to Derrick Rose.
Joakim Noah struggled often with Bynum, finishing with 2-of-10 from the field, as Tom Thibodeau probably went too much with Carlos Boozer and not Taj Gibson. Gibson had 18 points and the Bulls were a +10 during his 24 minutes on the court, filling in for Boozer or Noah. Boozer had 12 points and four rebounds, while the Tony Snell experiment in the lineup continued, this time without too much success, as the rookie did score 18 points, but wasn’t as efficient on defense as in the game against the Pistons.
It feels like the Cavs aren’t that far away from finally getting it right. Mike Brown might not be the brightest of offensive minds the NBA has to offer, but the Cavs should do better than what we’ve seen so far based on talent alone. Maybe the social situation in the locker room isn’t exactly ideal, but wins like this against a tough team like the Chicago Bulls have a tendency to change things quite drastically if they fall on the right set of ears.
For the Bulls it’s an end to a long and bad road trip, in which they lost Derrick Rose and all their games except for their visit to Detroit. Chicago had won 12 of its last 13 games against Cleveland, but things went wrong for them right from the start, allowing the Cavs the game’s first seven points, while Chicago once again looked confused and stuck on offense, Kirk Hinrich being unable to provide the answer from the point guard position.
In the East, no team is out of the playoff picture, let alone the Cavs who have looked quite horrendous up to this point this season, but with a fit and confident Bynum, will certainly be a lot more formidable. The Bulls are like a team that’s trying to learn how to walk for the first time (again), and will need more of this learning period before they look like a playoff club once more.