NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 1st (All times eastern)
Cleveland Cavaliers (8-24) at Chicago Bulls (21-10), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Central Division rivals headed in opposite directions clash in the Windy City tonight as the first place Chicago Bulls play host to the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Bulls, who are continuing a four-game homestand tonight, have seized control of the division by winning 12 of their last 14 games in December, the last of which was a 90-81 triumph over New Jersey on New Year's Eve. Carlos Boozer led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in that one as Chicago improved to 2-0 on the current residency.
Luol Deng went for 19 points and eight boards, while Derrick Rose contributed 19 points and nine assists for the Bulls, who have won three straight overall.
"Our defense picked up," Boozer said. "We got stops in the last 5-6 minutes of the game. We did a good job executing on their zone defense."
Chicago, which is an impressive 13-3 at the United Center, will finish its homestand against Toronto on Jan. 4.
The Cavs, meanwhile, dropped their 13th straight road game on Wednesday in Charlotte when Stephen Jackson scored a game-high 38 points and D.J. Augustin added 28 of his own as the Bobcats topped Cleveland, 101-92.
To make matters even worse for the Cavs center Anderson Varejao, who scored nine points in the contest, suffered a non-displaced maxilla (cheek) fracture. The defensive stalwart is being fitted for protective mask back in Cleveland and has already been ruled out of tonight's game as well as Sunday's contest against Dallas back in the Forest City.
Ramon Sessions led the Cavaliers versus the Bobcats with 22 points in a reserve role, Antawn Jamison scored 18, and Anthony Parker joined Varejao with nine points for Cleveland, which was also without Mo Williams. The point guard missed the game with a hip flexor injury he suffered in Tuesday's loss to Orlando.
"Everybody's disappointed," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said of his team. "We're not taking it lightly, we understand this is disappointing for us now."
Cleveland, which has dropped five in a row and 15 of 16 overall, has listed Williams and fellow guard Boobie Gibson (bruised left thigh) as questionable for tonight's contest.
"Happy new year to me," Scott told the Cavaliers' website about all the injuries. "That's why we are glad 2010 is over with. Though 2011 is not starting out good, we hope it will get better."
Chicago has won two straight in the series, including an 88-83 win in Cleveland back on Dec. 8.
01/01 10:34:04 ET