The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Chicago Bulls 111-105 in hard-fought game Friday night in Chicago. Cleveland, coming off a blowout loss to the Clippers Thursday night, needed a win to avoid a three-game losing streak but could not get the job done. Cleveland did make history though: the loss tonight makes this losing streak the first time a Tyronn Lue-coached team has lost three straight games.
The game was the Cavaliers second nationally televised game in as many nights and viewers who caught both games have to be wondering if the Monstars stole the Cavs talent.
The game started off well for the Wine and Gold as a more assertive LeBron James and crisp passing on the offensive end saw them grab a quick first quarter lead. Unfortunately, the offense stalled when the reserves entered the game and Chicago was able to cut the lead to just three before the first quarter expired.
In the second quarter, the Bulls were able to take advantage of some questionable officiating and poorly timed turnovers to close the gap to just one point at half time. The Bulls were making the most of their points off of turnovers to stay in the game but highlight passes and dunks from LeBron had the Cavs looking like the better team. Sadly for Cavaliers fans the end of the first half coincided with the end of the highlights for Cleveland.
The trouble started where it has in each of the three consecutive losses: the third quarter. After the break the Cavaliers looked like a team playing a home-road back-to-back. They were out-rebounded and had many costly turnovers. The Cavs were a sieve inside, allowing the Bulls starters to score at will inside the paint. The Bulls scored 50 of their first 59 points in the paint and finished with 78 in the painted area. The Cavaliers will need to work out these defensive issues before they become habitual.
The team attempted to overcome their third quarter struggles in the fourth, getting the deficit as little as four points. But defensively the Cavs could not get enough stops to ever fully get back into the game. The Bulls led for the entirety of the final quarter and closed out the game.
Losing three games in a row is new for this team, its been just about a year since the Cavs last lost three times consecutively. The quality of opponent surely has something to do with it, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Chicago are all talented teams. Realistically though only the Clippers should actually put up a fight the with Cavs when they are playing their best. Instead all three team pretty handily dispatched the defending champions, and the Cavaliers players and coaches will have some adjustments to make to bust out of the funk.
Thankfully the Cavaliers have a few days off to address some of these issues as their next game is not until Monday when they travel north of the border to take on the Toronto Raptors.