It was a familiar story for the Cavs against the Bulls on Saturday night.
As they have done so many times this season, the Cavs fell behind after a poor third quarter and they could not make it up in the fourth.
Cleveland rode a strong second quarter to recover from a five-point deficit after one and take a two-point lead into the break. However, the Cavs were outscored by 12 points in the third, and trailed by 10 going into the final period. Despite cutting the lead to as little as three multiple times in the fourth quarter, Cleveland just could not get over the hump.
This loss puts the Cavs three games back of Chicago for the final play-in spot in the East. This was a vital game for Cleveland, and now there is even more riding on next Wednesday’s rematch with the Bulls. Lose that, and the Cavs are almost certainly out of the running for the play-in tournament.
Despite the loss, Darius Garland had one of his better performances this season with 22 points, a career-high-tying 12 assists, and shot 4-8 from three. Collin Sexton also had 22 points and both Kevin Love and Jarrett Allen had double-doubles. The bench was what really let the Cavs down as they were outscored 45-15.
For Chicago, Nikola Vucevic led the way with 25 points to help make up for the absence of Zach LaVine.
Up Next: The Cavs will take on the Detroit Pistons in Detroit on Monday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.