With 3.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers down two, Mo Williams looked to inbound the ball to LeBron James. LeBron, however, was hounded by Bulls guard Jimmy Butler as he came off a double screen and Williams had to force in a pass attempt with the five-second clock winding down.
Butler was able to swat the ball away before LeBron could even get a hand on it and the clock ran out, sealing a 97-95 win for the Bulls on the opening night of the 2015-16 NBA season.
James led all scorers with 25 points on 12-22 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and 5 assists in 36 minutes. Williams, who started the game in place of Kyrie Irving, scored 19 points and Kevin Love added 18 on 6-17 shooting. Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls with 19 points, while Derrick Rose finished with 18 and Butler added 17.
Neither team put forth a particularly strong offensive performance. The Cavs shot just 40.4 percent from the field, while the Bulls were ever so slightly better at 42.5 percent. Aside from LeBron, only Richard Jefferson shot over 50 percent from the field. Until the late surge, the Cavs looked very much like a team that spent the preseason dealing with injuries and a jacked up rotation.
Before Williams' failed inbound pass attempt, LeBron drove to the rim in hopes of scoring a game-tying layup. He. however, was blocked by Bulls center Pau Gasol, who finished six blocks on the night.
The Cavs were able to have to chance to win at the end of the game after trailing by eight with just over a minute to play. With 1:01 left in the game, Love hit a 3-pointer to bring the game within two and after Mirotic missed his shot on the other end, Love hit another three to bring the Cavs within two points.
Cleveland doesn't have any time off, as the Cavs play the Grizzlies tomorrow night in Memphis. Tipoff is a 8 pm. from the FedEx Forum.