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Bulls\' effort fizzles late in loss to Cavs

Despite outstanding third quarter, Chicago falls apart in 108-100 defeat

Bulls\' effort fizzles late in loss to Cavs

The Bulls had not looked this good since they beat San Antonio a month ago.

They put together an astounding third quarter Thursday against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Then they fell apart, succumbing, 108-100, at the United Center and falling to 5-7 at home.

"We can't play well at home at all," the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich had said a day earlier. "That's pretty senseless."

James had his typical outstanding game with 37 points, but the Cavaliers' Damon Jones hit the Bulls hardest with three straight three-pointers in the Cavs' 18-2 run to open the fourth quarter. Jones sank four of them in the fourth and five in the game for 15 points.

"You could see it coming in our posture and the way we handled ourselves," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said of Jones' three-pointers. "It was inevitable they were going to make a run.

"You have a choice to make - either fight or flee."

The Bulls didn't put up much of a fight.

Behind Andres Nocioni, they had looked promising in the third quarter.

Early in the second half, Nocioni gave Bulls coach Scott Skiles what he wanted defensively.

Nocioni drew a charge first from Zydrunas Ilgauskas, from James a short time later and again from Ilgauskas with 7 minutes 21 seconds left in the third quarter. Late in the third, Ben Gordon drew one from Larry Hughes.

Nocioni made quite an impression on James last season, Nocioni's first in the NBA. James said Nocioni is a very physical defender, or it could be James brings out the best in the Bull.

James said he was ready for Nocioni this season because he has matured.

"I'm going to put my hard hat on tonight," James said before the game.

The Cavs' early second-half turnovers helped the Bulls turn a 57-53 halftime deficit into a six-point lead 4 1/2-minutes into the third quarter.

The Cavaliers didn't have a field goal for the first 5:50 in the third.

James had a rare botched dunk against Nocioni in the third but made up for it with an authoritative slam on the Cavaliers' next possession.

Nocioni had some of his own cool moves on offense as well. While they weren't nearly as entertaining, no Bulls fan in the sellout crowd of 21,874 could complain because he put the Bulls up 79-71 heading into the fourth quarter.

But with 2-1/2 minutes left in the game, fans headed for the exits. Cleveland's James, Ilgauskas and Jones were too much for them and the Bulls.

Ilgauskas finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He hit all 11 of his shots from the free-throw line.

After three quarters, Nocioni already had a double-double. He ended up with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Gordon kept the game close for the Bulls in the first half by scoring 18 points, and he finished with 22.

Updated : 2021-06-15 03:23 GMT+08:00