Bulls keep playoff hopes alive with win over slumping Cavs

By Ron Clements 31 March 2017
Bulls keep playoff hopes alive with win over slumping Cavs

The slumping Cavaliers have lost their grip on the top spot in the Eastern Conference and it might be the Celtics' gain. 

The Bulls overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit Thursday night to rally past the Cavaliers for a 99-93 victory at United Center. 

With their third straight loss, the Cavaliers (47-27) dropped a half-game back of the Celtics (48-27) for the top spot in the East. The Cavs have lost five of their last seven and even 26 points from LeBron James, who passed another NBA milestone, couldn't stop the skid. 

James moved past Shaquille O'Neal for seventh place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, but 19 of his 26 points came in the first half as the Cavs held a 50-41 lead at the break. 

The Bulls (36-39) got a game-high 28 points from Nikola Mirotic and another 25 points from Jimmy Butler to keep their playoff hopes alive. Chicago moved within a game-and-a-half of the Heat and Pacers for the final spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Stud of the night

The Timberwolves and Lakers may be just playing out the schedule, but Ricky Rubio had a great night. The T-wolves guard scored 33 points and had 10 assists with five rebounds in Minnesota's 119-104 victory over the visiting Lakers. He also had a pair of steals, as did Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who added 32 points and nine boards in the win. 

Dud of the night

Kevin Love had a pretty forgettable night in Chicago. The Cavaliers forward scored just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting and fouled out with 6:07 remaining in the game. 

Highlight

Houston's first points of Thursday's game in Portland came courtesy of an Eric Gordon 3-pointer that was set up by Patrick Beverley's aggressive dribble penetration. 

What's next

Rockets (51-23) at Warriors (61-14), 10:30 p.m. ET — After beating the Rockets in Houston on Tuesday, the Warriors will welcome the Rockets to Oracle Arena as Golden State goes for its 10th straight victory. The Rockets will try to end Golden State's win streak a night after James Harden helped the Rockets break the Warriors' record of 3-pointers made in a single season. 

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Ron Clements

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