Fri, 20 May 2022

Struggling Bulls look to hold off surging Cavaliers

Field Level Media
19 Jan 2022, 06:55 GMT+10

Although more than miscues involving "the little things" have added up for Chicago during a four-game losing skid -- just check the injury report -- it's those facets that the Bulls can control that may be most frustrating.

"For us right now, our margin for error is not great," coach Billy Donovan said. "Turnovers here, offensive rebound, a couple of easy transition points. We have to eliminate those things, the easy baskets. We don't generate a lot of (easy baskets) now because of our size and the way we are."

The Bulls will aim to reverse course Wednesday when they return home to face the surging Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of five straight.

Second-leading scorer Zach LaVine and fellow starter Lonzo Ball, both sidelined with left knee injuries, have missed two straight games for Chicago. However, the team may soon welcome Alex Caruso back to the rotation, Donovan said.

Caruso, a top defensive contributor, hasn't played since Dec. 20, landing in the NBA's health and safety protocol after recuperating from various injuries. Donovan said Monday that Caruso has been cleared, but said "I don't know what that looks like" when asked about his minutes.

DeMar DeRozan paced the Bulls with 24 points in Monday's 119-106 loss at Memphis. Ayo Dosunmu contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double, while Coby White had 16 points and matched DeRozan with five assists.

"Like coach always says, as long as we have five guys who play hard, we're going to have a chance to win any game; that's how we feel," White said. "We've got a lot of people out, but a lot of teams have a lot of people out. We're not using it as an excuse. We come into every game thinking we can win."

The Cavaliers are coming off Monday's 114-107 home win against Brooklyn, fueled by a 22-point, 12-assist double-double from Darius Garland.

Garland proved especially effective in the fourth quarter, scoring or assisting on eight of Cleveland's first 10 points of the period while finishing with eight points in the fourth.

"He is just an all-around player for us," teammate Isaac Okoro said. "He literally controls the game for us. He dictates everything. You can see now, he's starting to get those rebounds now. Playmaking. Scoring. He does everything for us."

Five other Cavaliers finished in double figures, including Okoro (15) and former Bull Lauri Markkanen (14).

Even with Nets star Kevin Durant sidelined with a sprained knee, Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff called the game "a signature win for us against a high-level team." Bickerstaff beamed about his team's defense down the stretch. The Cavaliers limited the Nets to 19 fourth-quarter points.

Rajon Rondo missed his fourth straight game with an injured hamstring and has been ruled out against the Bulls.

Cleveland rolled past Chicago 115-92 on its home floor on Dec. 8. Garland led all scorers with 24 points.

The teams will conclude the regular-season series with games March 12 in Chicago and March 26 at Cleveland.

--Field Level Media

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