Friday, April 20, 2018 Elyria 34°
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Cavs Notes

LeBron James, Kevin Love lead way again as Cavaliers hold off Bulls

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    The Cavs' LeBron James whips a pass past the Bulls' Justin Holiday in the first half Thursday at The Q. James had 34 points, nine assists and six rebounds to lead the Cavs to the win.

    TONY DEJAK / AP

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CLEVELAND — Point guard Isaiah Thomas donned a uniform and went through pregame warmups with his teammates, but didn’t make his first playing appearance of the season.

Tyronn Lue did his normal pregame session with the media but didn’t coach due to illness.

Shooting guard J.R. Smith was a late scratch due to left knee soreness, with center Channing Frye taking his spot in a revamped starting lineup.

It didn’t matter.

Behind LeBron James and Kevin Love, plus another big fourth-quarter shooting performance from Kyle Korver, the Cavaliers defeated the red-hot Chicago Bulls 115-112 Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

“I’ve been down six months,” said Thomas, who has been out with a hip injury since the Eastern Conference finals, when he played for Boston. “(Suiting up) was a step in the right direction.

“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added. “I can see where I fit in.”

The Cavs (24-9), who play at Golden State on Christmas Day, won for the 19th time in their last 21 games and for the 12th straight time at home behind 34 points, six rebounds, nine assists and three steals from James, who appeared in his team-record 800th regular-season game for the Wine & Gold.

Love finished with 27 points and seven boards, while Korver had nine of his 15 points in what has become known as the Fourth Korver.

The Bulls (10-21), who had won seven straight after a 3-20 start, got 25 points from impressive rookie power forward Lauri Markkanen, 18 points from small forward Denzel Valentine and 10 points and 14 assists from point guard Kris Dunn.

“The Bulls have improved,” said Cavs associate head coach Larry Drew, who found out 30 minutes before tipoff that he would be filling in for Lue. “They’re playing some good basketball.”

The Cavs held the Bulls without a field goal from the 5:20 mark of the third period until 10:02 was left in the fourth to build an 89-79 lead.

“It was defensive perfection from the tips to the strips,” James said. “Everybody was locking down.”

The Bulls came right back with seven straight points and eventually tied the game before Korver hit a three, got fouled and made the free throw to put Cleveland up 100-96 with 4:43 to go.

Chicago didn’t quit and had a chance to force overtime, but Valentine, guarded well by Jae Crowder, missed a fadeaway 3-pointer from the left wing that barely grazed rim at the buzzer.

“We know how to win games in the fourth quarter,” said Cavs 15th-year pro Dwyane Wade, who had four points, two rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks in 7:56 of action in the final period. “I’ve been on teams where we’ve been darn good and didn’t know how to win them in the last five minutes.”

There was a buzz in the arena before the start of the game, because Thomas was in uniform and took part in pregame warmups. Earlier in the day, he participated in a full-court scrimmage against members of the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate.

“It felt good,” he said of the scrimmage. “For the most part, I’m able to do what I want out there. It’s just I have no rhythm or feel. I haven’t played since May. That part will come.”

Thomas won’t play on Christmas Day against the Warriors and said he wouldn’t take part in another scrimmage with Charge players, but it’s possible he could appear in a game before the end of the calendar year.

“That day is coming sooner rather than later that I’ll be playing,” the 28-year-old said. “I can’t wait.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com and follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.

Cavaliers 115, Bulls 112

CHICAGO (112): Valentine 7-10 0-0 18, Markkanen 11-17 2-2 25, Lopez 7-11 0-0 14, Dunn 5-11 0-0 10, Holiday 3-7 0-0 8, Zipser 2-4 0-0 5, Portis 3-7 0-0 6, Mirotic 5-9 2-4 15, Grant 3-4 2-2 9, Nwaba 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 47-85 6-8 112.

CLEVELAND (115): James 12-23 8-8 34, Frye 1-2 0-0 2, Love 9-15 5-5 27, Calderon 3-5 0-0 8, Crowder 2-6 0-0 4, Osman 0-2 0-2 0, Green 3-6 4-4 10, Thompson 2-4 1-2 5, Korver 5-7 1-1 15, Wade 5-12 0-0 10, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-82 19-22 115.

Chicago    27 29 23 33 — 112
Cleveland 29 29 24 33 — 115

3-Point Goals—Chicago 12-31 (Valentine 4-7, Mirotic 3-6, Holiday 2-5, Grant 1-1, Zipser 1-3, Markkanen 1-4, Dunn 0-2, Nwaba 0-3), Cleveland 12-29 (Korver 4-6, Love 4-8, Calderon 2-4, James 2-5, Frye 0-1, Osman 0-1, Green 0-1, Wade 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Chicago 35 (Holiday 7), Cleveland 35 (Love 7). Assists—Chicago 34 (Dunn 14), Cleveland 25 (James 9). Total Fouls—Chicago 19, Cleveland 14. A—20,562 (20,562).

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