Irving exits, Cavs rout Bulls to reach conference finals

Chicago, IL ( - Kyrie Irving sat primarily on the bench due to an injury.

LeBron James didn't light it up either.

Somehow, the Cleveland Cavaliers are heading to the Eastern Conference finals.

Matthew Dellavedova scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers routed the Chicago Bulls 94-73 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

"The power of team trumps all," Cleveland coach David Blatt said.

Irving, already dealing with a right foot strain and tendinitis in his left knee, exited the contest at the 9:47 mark of the second quarter with a left knee injury. He did not return.

"He's sore and bowed but not broken," Blatt said. "He'll be ok."

The Cavaliers, however, surged on without him, outscoring the Bulls 23-9 to close the half and leading by 14 at the break.

Chicago failed to take advantage of Cleveland's dry spell to begin the second half. The Cavs missed their first 11 shots to start the third and didn't score until Dellavedova put in a floater at the 6:14 mark.

The margin still stood at 14, though, because the Bulls netted just two points and went 1-for-10 shooting themselves during the stretch.

Blatt stated he "would've considered" putting Irving back in the game had it gotten close, but he never had to worry.

"As long as things were going the way they were going I wasn't going to play him," he said.

James was a rebound shy of a triple-double, posting 15 points, 11 assists and nine boards, but was just 7-of-23 from the floor. He will be making his fifth straight appearance in the East Finals.

"I want these guys to be able to feel this moment. That's what I came back here for," James said.

Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and James Jones also played pivotal roles in second-seeded Cleveland's first trip to the conference finals since 2009. Each one took over at times during the game.

Thompson, who snatched 17 rebounds, netted 10 of his 13 points in the opening frame and Shumpert poured in 11 of his 13 in the second. Jones knocked down a trio of 3-pointers in the first half.

Cleveland will play either the Atlanta Hawks or Washington Wizards in the next round. The top-seeded Hawks can lock up their first trip to the conference finals with a win over the Wizards Friday night in Game 6 of their semifinal.

Chicago shot just 37.5 percent and sunk 4-of-20 from beyond the arc.

"We had been shooting the three pretty well throughout the postseason," Thibodeau said. "They did more switching than normal and covered up the line well."

Jimmy Butler led the third-seeded Bulls with 20 points and Derrick Rose provided 14 points and six assists. Pau Gasol returned from a hamstring injury and supplied eight points and five rebounds in what might've been Thibodeau's final game as Bulls' head coach.

"Until they tell me I'm not, I expect to be here," Thibodeau said of the speculation that he might be fired due to friction with management.

Thibodeau has Rose's approval.

"I love him as a coach," he said.

The game was tied 35-35 when Irving left and Cleveland pulled ahead for good after Nikola Mirotic was assessed a Flagrant One foul for clotheslining Shumpert on a drive from the right wing with the Cavs up 41-40 midway through the frame.

Shumpert scored the next six points, extending their margin to 47-40. He added a triple later in the period and Cleveland went into the locker room up 58-44.

Cleveland took a 73-60 advantage into the fourth following the lackluster third and the cushion swelled to 27 in the final stanza.

Earlier, Gasol deposited six early points as Chicago opened up a 12-6 lead. Timofoy Mozgov, however, recorded a pair of baskets to cap a 9-2 spurt to stake the Cavs to a 15-14 edge at the halfway point of the first.

Thompson's three-point play in the waning seconds of the quarter made it 33-31 in favor of the Cavs.

Game Notes

James' teams in the postseason improved to 31-3 when leading by double digits at halftime ... The Bulls have gone 255-139 under Thibodeau and reached the postseason in each of his five seasons with the team ... Cleveland was 12- of-27 from beyond the arc.