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Shorthanded Bulls cruise past Cavaliers

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It would take a major procedure to stop the bleeding the Bulls have endured the past month. But for one night, the offense was resuscitated as they ended a four-game skid by defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-84.

Coming into Saturday’s contest, they had failed to shoot 40 percent in six of their past eight games. That wouldn’t be the case in this one as they shot a season-high 53.6 from the field, 10-for-15 from 3-point range (66.7) and by as many as 19.

Kirk Hinrich (back), Jimmy Butler (right ankle) and Luol Deng (left Achilles) sat out to rest their respective injuries.

“We needed this one bad,” said Taj Gibson, one of six Bulls who scored in double figures. “They had a tough win (Saturday) that kind of put them above us (in the standings). Everybody in the East is so bunched together. It’s open other than the first two (spots). We’re just trying to take it one game at a time.”

All five starters for the Bulls (10-16) scored in double figures. Carlos Boozer led the team 19 as D.J. Augustine finished 18 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in all but 96 seconds of floor time. Tony Snell scored 17, hitting a career-high five three-pointers and Joakim Noah finished with his ninth double-double of the season with 11 points and 18 rebounds.

The Bulls got off to a hot start, shooting 56 percent in the first half and leading 60-43. They ran into some trouble in the second half as the Cavaliers (10-16) jumped out to an 18-8 run to begin the third quarter. The Cavs couldn’t sustain their energy, though and were overcome by the hungrier team.

“I loved us offensively,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The ball movement was sharp and quick with high-percentage shots and guys sharing the ball.”

The Cavaliers were without guard Dion Waiters and were led by Andrew Bynum’s 19 points. Kyrie Irving scored 14, but shot just 5-of-16.

The only negative for the Bulls were the 21 turnovers by, which Cleveland turned into 17 points, but a win is a win. Even more so when you’ve only enjoyed four in the last 17 games.

“Great team win,” Noah said. “We’ve been going through a lot as a team. To be able to win with so many guys out, it’s special.

“Just one game at a time. We got a lot of work to do, but to come out tonight … even the games that we’ve lost, nobody’s putting their heads down. Everybody’s just fighting and that’s encouraging.”

The Bulls will have three days off before they play the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas.


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