Bulls look to complete season sweep of Cavaliers
Struggling with the NBA's worst record and compromised by key injuries, the Cleveland Cavaliers still have found reasons for optimism lately.
Forward Cedi Osman heads the list, entering Sunday afternoon's road game against the Chicago Bulls on the heels of back-to-back, career-high scoring efforts.
A 6-foot-8, second-year player from Macedonia, Osman scored 29 points in Friday's 100-94 home loss to Miami, two nights after contributing 25 points to a lopsided defeat in Boston. Osman has finished in double figures 31 times in 48 games this season. He did so just seven times in 61 games last season.
"I think it's just experience," Osman told reporters after Friday's game. "Through the season, there's a lot of ups and downs, and I was able to see what is my strongest part and what is not. So, I think I just started to figure out what is going on right now. I feel it's easier, more me, and I'm confident with my shots and all of it. The last two months, I changed my playing style. I started attacking more."
Cleveland (9-41) remains without All-Star forward Kevin Love as it tries to end a six-game losing streak. Love practiced this week, but the team has not given a timetable for his return. Love played the first four games of the season with a sore foot, but has not been in action since while recovering from toe surgery.
Tristan Thompson (foot) has missed 14 games, while Larry Nance Jr. returned Friday from an 11-game absence with a knee injury.
No strangers to injury themselves, the Bulls lost for the 12th time in 13 games on Friday, collapsing down the stretch of a 106-101 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Chicago (11-38) held a 12-point lead in the third quarter and entered the fourth with a two-point advantage. But inconsistency ultimately caught up to the Bulls.
"We have to finish possessions better, whether it's a defensive possession on a rotation or an offensive possession where we have an open look," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. "We have to take it within the rhythm of the offense."
Lou Williams rallied the Clippers with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, notching the first triple-double of his 14-year career. A team bus carrying Williams, fellow starter Avery Bradley and Clippers coach Doc Rivers arrived at the United Center just 45 minutes before tipoff, delayed by snow and rush-hour traffic in Chicago.
"We fought throughout the whole game, so it just (stinks) that we didn't come out with the win," Bulls guard Kris Dunn said.
The Bulls snapped a 10-game losing streak with Monday's 104-88 victory at Cleveland in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee. A 15-for-30 effort from long range helped Chicago maintain control throughout, as the Bulls led by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Zach LaVine scored 25 points as the Bulls improved to 3-0 against Cleveland this season. Sunday is scheduled to be the teams' final meeting of 2018-19.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 26, 2019