CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 26 points and J.R. Smith added 20 as the Cleveland Cavaliers entered a favorable portion of their schedule with a 108-94 win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Back home after winning two games in Los Angeles to salvage a trip out West, the Cavs had little trouble with the Central Division-leading Bulls. Cleveland opened a 25-point lead in the third quarter and handed Chicago its fourth loss in five games.READ MORE: 2 People Shot And Wounded in Humboldt Park
Smith made six 3-pointers, Kyrie Irving scored 18 with 12 assists and Kevin Love added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs, who have won three straight to temporarily quiet talk that they’re underachieving and first-year coach David Blatt is in trouble. Cleveland can improve its record with three more home games this week and nine of its next 12 in Quicken Loans Arena.
Derrick Rose scored 18 points for the Bulls, who played their third game in a row without starting center Joakim Noah (sprained ankle).
Cavs center Timofey Mozgov scored 15 with 15 rebounds in his first home game for Cleveland since being acquired in a Jan. 7 trade from Denver.
Playing his fourth game since missing eight with a strained back and knee, James didn’t have to carry the offensive load as Cleveland’s other starters combined for 69 points.READ MORE: Chicago First Alert Weather: Single Digit Temps Throughout The Morning, Cloudy During The Day
Leading by 15 at halftime, the Cavs opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run to open a 23-point lead. Love and Smith drained 3-pointers in the spurt that wobbled the Bulls. Chicago got to 90-78 in the fourth, but James scored on a drive and Smith drilled a 3 to put the Cavs back in control.
Jimmy Butler scored 20 for Chicago, which made its push in the fourth with Rose on the bench.
Rose missed his first seven shots and didn’t make his first field goal until there was 1:10 left in the first half. None of the Bulls could shoot straight as Chicago shot only 30 percent from the floor in the opening half.
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