Bulls-Cavaliers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 05, 2012
Kyrie Irving's absence caused enough headaches for the Cleveland Cavaliers well before having to contend with a hobbled Dion Waiters. Beating the Chicago Bulls has been a challenging chore no matter who is in the lineup. Waiters may miss a second straight game as Cleveland looks to avoid a 10th consecutive loss to visiting Chicago on Wednesday night. Cleveland (4-14) is 2-6 since Irving broke his left index finger, and he's expected to miss at least another two weeks. Waiters, averaging 15.2 points per game, then sprained his ankle in the second overtime of Saturday's 118-117 loss to Portland, keeping him out of Monday's 89-79 defeat at Detroit. Coach Byron Scott isn't sure if the rookie and fourth overall pick will be able to go Wednesday. "He didn't practice (Tuesday), so he's 50-50," Scott said. "It's going to be a game-time decision." Even with both Irving and Waiters in the lineup Nov. 2, the Bulls blew out the Cavaliers 115-86 for their fifth straight victory in Cleveland. "Well, it's terrifying to think about playing the Bulls without Kyrie and (Waiters), but everyone laces them up the same way," Scott said. "You've got to come out there and compete no matter who's on the floor. That's the bottom line." Scott suggested he may go with a different starting lineup after the Cavs were down 30-17 at the end of the first quarter Monday. ''We got back into the game, but we never got anything going on offense," Scott said. "Just looking at that aspect of it, I would have to say I'm 75 percent sure it won't be the same (starting) lineup." Anderson Varejao continued doing his part, though, finishing with 17 points and 18 rebounds against Detroit for his ninth consecutive double-double. He's recorded at least 15 rebounds in each game while averaging 16.0 points and 17.7 boards in that stretch. Varejao, trying to become the first player grab 15 or more rebounds in 10 consecutive games since Kevin Love did so from Nov. 22-Dec. 11, 2010, leads the NBA with 15.4 per contest. He was limited to five, though, in last month's loss to Chicago. That marked the ninth consecutive win in the series for the Bulls, who shot a season-best 63.8 percent in that contest. Chicago (8-8) wasn't nearly as good Tuesday, shooting 38.4 percent while setting a season low for points in an 80-76 loss to Indiana. Nate Robinson scored a team-high 19 points off the bench but finished 5 of 13 from the field and committed four turnovers, including three in the fourth quarter. ''Something we have to do is take care of the ball down the stretch,'' Robinson said. ''For this loss, I definitely take the blame. Down the stretch I have to be smarter with the ball and make the right plays and execute.'' Luol Deng shot 5 of 15 and scored 17 points while Carlos Boozer added 14 and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who will be without Richard Hamilton indefinitely after he suffered a torn plantar fascia in his left foot during Saturday's 93-88 win over Philadelphia. Boozer, who spent his first two NBA seasons with the Cavs, is averaging 18.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in his last four visits to Cleveland. He scored a game-high 19 points last month.
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