.500 Ball Club Bulls Take One At Club Q, 86-85

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Cleveland – LeBron James had a chance to bail out the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he so often does, in the final seconds at the Q. Unfortunately for him, there were no bailouts being handed on this night, and deservedly so.

The Cavaliers lacked a sense of urgency and the Chicago Bulls took advantage, punctuated by a terrific defensive play by Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to sink the hearts of the Cleveland faithful.

James had his ho hum 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Shaquille O’Neal did work with 14, 10, and five blocks. Anderson Varejao gave a yeoman’s effort with 12 points and 13 boards. The defense held the Bulls to 86 points. What went wrong?

First off, the energy was extremely low, as it has been all season, with Bulls being allowed to hang around early. Couple that with the athletic Bulls front-court rendering Coach Mike Brown’s master plan, the TTCOD (Twin Tower Combo of Death), completely ineffective (partially due to Zydrunas Illgauskas going 0-9 from the field) and a team shooting percentage of 40.9%.

Credit has to be given where it is due, as the Bulls took care of the ball, committing only 6 turnovers compared to 12 by the Cavaliers, outhustled Cleveland and made the big plays when it mattered down the stretch. You have to believe a big early season road win, such as this, will do wonders for the confidence of a young team.

Derrick Rose had a nice outing, 14 points and 11 dimes, as did Luol Deng with 15 points to with seven boards and seven assists. The big men, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Brad Miller, all gave great effort and took advantage of the TTCOD’s poor pick and roll defense, a chink in the Cavalier armor with which the league is becoming all too familiar.

In the end, one must question the continued trial and ERROR of the TTCOD. It is a weapon (a term used very loosely) that will most certainly be ineffective against any of the top teams in the league (Los Angeles, Boston, Orlando and Denver), who all feature athletic bigs that would destroy such a matchup.

If the Cavaliers consider themselves a top-notch contender, they should be dislodging the weak without issue and developing a rotation they will be using deep into June. Leave the junk lineups to Nellie’s Warriors and start getting serious.