It’s no surprise the Bulls beat Cavaliers Friday night, but for the first time since the 1997-98 season, Chicago has clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 93-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Chicago, which has won six straight and 18 of 20, will have home-court advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs. The Bulls hadn’t finished with the best record in the the East since 1997-98, the most recent of their six NBA championships in the Michael Jordan era.
The Bulls, winners of five in a row and nine of 10 on the road, had six players score in double figures. Ronnie Brewer had 12 points while Derrick Rose added 11 points and eight assists. Joakim Noah scored 11 points while Luol Deng and Kyle Korver had 10 points apiece.
J.J. Hickson led Cleveland with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Daniel Gibson scored 14 points while Ramon Sessions added 13. The Cavaliers, who had won their previous two games, fell into a tie with Minnesota for the league’s worst record.
Chicago led 54-46 at halftime, but the Cavaliers cut the lead to three midway through the third quarter. The Bulls scored 10 straight points and ended the period on an 18-6 run.
Hickson’s thunderous dunk brought the Cavaliers to 60-57 at the 7:06 mark of the quarter, but the Bulls scored six straight points, forcing Cleveland coach Byron Scott to call timeout. The run contiued on Deng’s layup and a basket by Boozer, giving Chicago a 70-57 lead.
Hickson scored two baskets for Cleveland, but the Bulls ended the quarter on an 8-2 run and led 78-63.
Rose’s two free throws broke a 14-14 tie midway through the first quarter, giving Chicago the lead for good. Cleveland cut the lead to 31-30 early in the second period, but the Bulls quickly built a 14-point lead.
Before the game, the Cavaliers honored their Hall of Fame radio play-by-play man Joe Tait, who is retiring at the end of the season, his 39th announcing Cleveland’s games. A banner bearing Tait’s name was raised to the rafters next to the Cavaliers’ retired numbers. Tait has called 3,381 Cavaliers’ games. His last one will be Wednesday against Washington.
NOTES: Noah hit a hook shot from about 35 feet at the end of the first half, but it came after time ran out. … The Bulls play their next two games on the road, Sunday at Orlando and Tuesday at New York. … Cavaliers FSamardo Samuels (groin) missed his third straight game. G-F Christian Eyenga has been benched for the last two games because he has missed two many defensive assignments.
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