Cleveland, OH – Marco Belinelli dropped in a season-best 23 points and Luol Deng had 22 as the Chicago Bulls continued their recent dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 95-85 triumph at Quicken Loans Arena.
"Marco scored in different ways tonight," Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He drove, he got to the line, he was able to catch-and-shoot.
Starting in place of an injured Richard Hamilton, Belinelli shot 7-of-15 from the field and went 7-of-8 from the foul line in a near wire-to-wire victory that extended Chicago's win streak over Cleveland to 10 games.
Joakim Noah added 13 points and 15 rebounds to help the Bulls bounce back from a 4-point home loss to Indiana on Tuesday, with Carlos Boozer amassing 10 points and 12 boards in the win.
Anderson Varejao extended his string of double-doubles to 10 consecutive games for Cleveland, but the Cavaliers struggled in the absence of two of their top three scorers in Kyrie Irving and rookie Dion Waiters. Cleveland hit a troubling 36.5 percent of its field goal attempts in falling for the third straight outing and seventh time in eight games.
Varejao racked up 11 points and 15 rebounds, with Donald Sloan scoring a team- best 14 points for the Cavs.
"The effort has been great. It was great tonight," Cavs head coach Byron Scott said. "We're just going to keep working. That's the only thing we can do."
Waiters missed a second straight contest with a sprained left ankle, while Irving has been sidelined since mid-November due to a broken finger.
Chicago overwhelmed the outmanned Cavaliers during a first quarter in which Cleveland hit just 5-of-16 shots and turned the ball over seven times. The Bulls went a scorching 66.7 percent from the field, on the other hand, in building a commanding 27-11 advantage at the conclusion of the frame.
Belinelli led the way by pouring in 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, with five of that total coming during a 15-3 run over the final seven minutes of the quarter that broke the game open. The Bulls maintained a double-digit cushion throughout the entire second period and were up by as much as 18 points after a Deng jumper with 1:47 left before intermission made the score 45-27.
Sloan sparked an 8-0 spurt for the Cavs to finish out the half, however, netting five points during the stretch and knocking down a runner with 4.2 seconds left that brought Cleveland within 45-35 at the break.
The Cavaliers made another charge late in the third quarter, with a Daniel Gibson 3-pointer igniting an 11-2 flurry that cut the deficit to 64-59 with under two minutes to go in the session. However, Chicago would score 13 of the next 18 points to claim a 77-64 lead after Belinelli finished a three-point play early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls' margin peaked at 17 points over the game's final stages, with Cleveland never getting the differential under nine thereafter.
Varejao has now grabbed 15 rebounds or more in 10 consecutive games, the first player to do so since Minnesota's Kevin Love from Nov. 22-Dec. 11, 2010. He's also the first to have 15 rebounds with five offensive boards in 10 straight since a 12-game run by Hall of Famer Moses Malone with Houston during the 1978-79 season ... Hamilton sat out for a second straight night with a plantar fascia tear in his left foot ... Boozer posted a double-double for the eighth time in his last 10 tests, and the Bulls are now 9-0 all-time when both he and Noah each record one ... Cleveland had 14 offensive rebounds and now has compiled 10 or more in 13 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the league (Memphis, 14).