James scores 33, Cavs rout Bulls to even series

Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Something was different about LeBron James as he led the Cavaliers to a win over the Bulls in Game 2.

And it wasn't just the headband.

James poured in 33 points, 14 more than he had in Game 1, and Cleveland beat Chicago 106-91 on Wednesday night to even their Eastern Conference semifinal series at 1-1.

After shooting 9-of-22 in Monday's 99-92 loss, James had 22 points in the first half of this one, helping the Cavaliers build a big lead on the way to a much-needed win with the series shifting to Chicago for the next two games.

The short-handed Cavs controlled play except for a two-minute span in the third quarter when the Bulls scored 14 straight points.

"We needed it," said James. "Our backs were against the wall. We can't go down 2-0 on our home floor."

James donned his trademark headband for the first time in almost two months and added eight rebounds, five assists and two steals for the No. 2-seeded Cavs.

He also played a different position than Game 1, shifting to small forward with 6-foot-9 Tristan Thompson inserted into the starting lineup.

"For good parts of the game he played the four as well. He just didn't start there," said Cavs coach David Blatt. "I think the important thing was he was very aggressive, in attack mode, engaged, leading the guys by example and vocally."

Kyrie Irving chipped in 21 points in the win and James Jones and Iman Shumpert combined for 32 with nine 3-pointers between them.

Jimmy Butler scored 18 points to lead the third-seeded Bulls and Derrick Rose had 14 points and 10 assists.

The Cavs are without Kevin Love for the series because of a shoulder injury, but they will get J.R. Smith back from suspension for Game 3 in Chicago on Friday.

They had a 25-point lead before the Bulls scored on six straight possessions for their 14-0 run in the third quarter. Rose and Butler hit 3s during the flurry, which trimmed Cleveland's lead to 11 -- the first time the Bulls were that close since midway through the first quarter.

James drove for a layup to end the run and the Cavs built their lead to 16 entering the fourth quarter. He only played five minutes in the fourth and the Bulls were never closer than 12 down the stretch.

"I just thought we came out a lot more ready," said Blatt. "We had to be in the moment from the jump ball. We had to be engaged and have a good defensive mindset. We had to set that tone."

James scored 14 points to key a big first quarter for Cleveland, but Shumpert also played a role, hitting a trio of 3s as the Cavs poured it on early. They were 6-of-7 from beyond the arc in the quarter and led by 22 after Jones' 3 in the last minute.

"The story of the game was the first quarter," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. "They mismatched us. We knew the aggression would be better, harder, and we didn't respond to it. ... It was too big a cushion for them."

James wore a headband for the first time since taking it off during a March 7 game against Phoenix, which the Cavs won to start a four-game winning streak.

"It was just in my locker when I showed up today and so I just decided to give it a go," James said. "It was time for it to make a comeback."

He made nine shots in the first half Wednesday to match his total from all of Game 1. He scored four straight on a one-handed driving dunk past Butler and a layup off his own miss, extending Cleveland's lead to 23 late in the second.

The Cavs finished the half 9-of-15 on 3s, with Shumpert going 4-for-5. They were 12-of-26 for the game and shot 44.6 percent overall.

James fired up 29 shots, his highest total in the playoffs in six years.

"We're a little short-handed, so I have to kind of change my approach and be ultra-aggressive, which I'm not accustomed to doing, especially taking that many shots," he said.

"I'm not a high-volume shooter. ... But that's what I'm going to do if that's what my guys want me to do."

Game Notes

Thompson had a game-high 12 rebounds ... The Bulls shot 40.5 percent ... Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson had 11 points each for Chicago ... Smith was suspended two games by the NBA for hitting Boston's Jae Crowder in the face in Game 4.