Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/6/12
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers were playing without their starting backcourt on Wednesday night. They got no sympathy from the Chicago Bulls, who recorded their 10th consecutive win over the Cavs, 95-85, before an announced crowd of 17,893 at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs' last win in the series was March 19, 2010. The Central Division-leading Bulls (9-8) were playing without their starting backcourt of Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton. However, that made no difference in the outcome of the game. "It's the NBA," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "We've always been a no-excuse team. We won't cry about guys that aren't out there." The Cavs have a small margin for error with their top two scorers and playmakers out of the lineup. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters could be back sometime soon. "We have to play a darn near perfect game," Scott said. "I'm proud of our guys. We battled and played as hard as we can. The effort was there." Chicago received strong efforts from point guard Kirk Hinrich (11 points, game-high eight assists) and shooting guard Marco Belinelli (game-high 23 points). "Every night, his defense sets the tone for our team," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He kept us organized and that's huge. That's what a point guard does." The Cavs marveled at Chicago's defense, which limited them to 36.5 percent from the field. "They are phenomenal on defense," Zeller said. Added Scott: "They are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They have been for three or four years." The Cavs' season is quickly taking a turn for the worse. They've lost 13 of their last 15 games. The battle between Cavs center Anderson Varejao and Bulls center Joakim Noah was worth the price of admission, though. Varejao posted his 10th double-double in a row with 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. He is one double-double shy of the team record set by center Elmore Smith during the 1978 season. Varejao came into the game leading the league in rebounds at 15.4 per game. Noah recorded a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds. "He's a tough player," Noah said. "He's a hard-playing dude. Do I like playing against him? No. I really respect him on and off the court." The Cavs (4-15) narrowed the deficit to 64-59 with 1:51 remaining in the third quarter. Hinrich scored six points in the remainder of the quarter as the Bulls stretched their lead to 72-63 entering the fourth. All five Chicago starters scored in double figures. Small forward Luol Deng finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. Power forward Carlos Boozer, a former second-round draft pick of the Cavs, was strong on the boards with 10 points and 12 rebounds. He helped the he Bulls shoot 47 percent from the field and out-rebound the Cavs, 45-41. Cavs backup point guard Donald Sloan had a season-high 14 points and three assists. Power forward Tristan Thompson added 11 points and five rebounds. Cavs point guard Jeremy Pargo added a little fuel to the fire in the fourth quarter when he was fouled hard by Belinelli, then fired a behind-the-back pass that hit Belinelli in the face. He was given a technical foul. The Cavs made several runs at the Bulls, but could never get over the hump. "We thought we could (catch up)," Cavs center Tyler Zeller said. "We always thought we had a chance. We just ran out of gas. We couldn't make enough plays." The Cavs tightened up their defense in the second quarter, which allowed them to trim their deficit to 45-35 at halftime. NOTES: Hamilton has a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. The Bulls list him as day-to-day. Thibodeau said he'd be sidelined another week or two. Hamilton has been replaced in the starting lineup by Belinelli. Hamilton was the Bulls' second-leading scorer at 13.9 points. ... Gibson replaced injured Waiters at shooting guard against the Bulls. Waiters has missed the last two games with a sprained left ankle. "He still needs some more time," Scott said. "The swelling has gone down. He still has significant soreness in there." Scott said he didn't consider starting the slumping C.J. Miles. ... The Bulls are still a bit hot under the collar about the no-call at the end of the Pacers game Tuesday at the United Center. Forward Luol Deng appeared to get hammered with time running out, but the whistle wasn't blown. The Bulls lost, 80-76. ... The Cavs asked all three rookies -- Tyler Zeller, Kevin Jones and Waiters -- to push a pink baby stroller to the game. Scott said he did the same initiation when he was the coach in New Orleans. ... There was a large contingent of Canton Charge coaches and front-office personnel at the game to watch Jones, who was recalled from the D-League team Tuesday. ... Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving has begun to practice, but still hasn't been cleared for contact drills. "I know he's anxious," Scott said. "We're not going to take any chances. We'll leave it up to the doctors. He has to get at least one practice in. The chance of him coming back early, I don't know." Irving has a hairline fracture of his left index finger. Doctors estimated he'd miss four weeks. He's been out since Nov. 17.
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