Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 115-92 home win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
1. There never really was too much doubt about this one. The Cavs just had their way and looked like the better team at home. It really was that simple. Isn’t that just nice, Cavalier fans?
2. This is the way it should go. The Bulls were down three key players, four overall. That list includes star guard/forward DeMar DeRozan, who is averaging 26.4 points and just generally having a banner year. But like teammates Javonte Green, Coby White and Matt Thomas, DeRozan is in the NBA’s health and safety protocol.
3. Sorry we’re not sorry, said the Cavs. And who can blame them? They’ve been in similar situations. They too have missed key pieces throughout the early season. They also have to play without Collin Sexton all year. It’s undoubtedly unfortunate what’s going on with the Bulls. But this is a bottom-line business. The Cavs just needed a win, baby.
4. They also needed to show they’re a team that can continue to take care of business at home. I don’t say that as someone who doubted it could happen — because the Cavs have proven to be a mentally strong and cohesive team. But given Chicago’s issues, this was a game the Cavs should’ve won. It was good to see that they did, and fairly easily.
5. Darius Garland was again fantastic, with 24 points, six assists and just two turnovers. He was already having a nice year, but really seems to have taken a leap over the past few weeks.
6. Evan Mobley was also remarkable — with 16 points, nine rebounds, 8-of-11 shooting and a whopping FIVE blocked shots. He’s maybe had two or three games where he’s looked like a rookie so far. In this one, he looked like Kevin Garnett.
7. Overall, it was a balanced attack, the best kind for coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Lauri Markkanen (14 points), Jarrett Allen (13 points, 11 boards), and Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio (11 points apiece) all contributed to the fun. Also, Isaac Okoro was solid with nine points and some decent defense.
8. Why Kevin Pangos signed in Cleveland, though, I’ll never know. I completely forgot about the guy until he checked in at garbage time.
9. Anyway, moving on …
10. Another nice thing about this year’s Cavs is they are getting in a little payback after years of being a laughingstock in the non-LeBron James years. It’s safe to say that through 26 games, this is the best Cavs team without LeBron since the 1990s.
11. Bickerstaff on that subject: “We took a lot of ass whoopings last year, and the guys that were part of that had had enough.”
12. So now the Cavs (14-12) can deliver those whoopings themselves. And it sure has been a lot of fun for the organization and its fans. I admittedly ripped them continuously for stinking without LeBron. Now, I’d rather have this current Cavs team than LeBron’s current Lakers team.
13. As for Mobley’s multiple swats, that’s actually nothing new. Just ask Markkanen.
14. Markkanen on Mobley: “We’ve been on the other end of it during training camp, so we know how it frustrating is for (the Bulls). That’s what Evan does. That’s him.”
15. Zach LaVine led the Bulls (17-9) with 23 points, Lonzo Ball scored 19 and Nikola Vucevic had 18. So yes, DeRozan was missing, but this is still a pretty good team and therefore, a nice win for the Cavs. I went into it thinking it could’ve gone either way. Silly me. These Cavs are quite different, and as I always say, in a good way.
16. Well, that’s it for tonight. As always, thanks for reading. And if you want to enjoy more NBA-related content (or just support your least-favorite NBA writer), please give us a Twitter follow @WireHoops. And/or a Facebook follow right here.