Chicago Bulls’ Winning streak snapped at seven in 115-112 loss to Cleveland

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: Robin Lopez /

The Chicago Bulls lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-112. Bulls lose for the first time since December 6th.

Two weeks ago, Cleveland could’ve circled tonight’s match-up against Chicago as nothing more than a tune-up game; LeBron James and company see the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, one of the NBA Season’s marquee games.

Instead, the Bulls took their seven-game winning streak to Quicken Loans Arena. The streak, improbable as ever, after starting the season 3-20.

Right out of the gate, Kevin Love looked sharp for Cleveland, scoring 10 of the team’s first 19 points. However, the Bulls survived thanks to consistent, well-set offense.

The first half of action matched the overall trend of the game; back-and-forth, shot-for-shot. Ultimately, Cleveland took the first 24 minutes of action, outscoring Chicago by a narrow 58-56 margin.

Kris Dunn impressed in the quarter, but more on the passing end of the basketball spectrum. Dunn seemed to put shooters in good possessions time and time again, finishing the night with 14.

Continuing what has been something of a trend this season, the Bulls struggled in getting to the line in the first half. As a team, the Bulls shot just one free-throw during the first two periods, an and-one make by Lauri Markkanen. 

Meanwhile, the shooter’s duel continued through to the third quarter and the remainder of the action. 

Credit Denzel Valentine with key shots throughout the quarter. Valentine was rolling, hitting 4-of-4 and 3-of-3, finally snapping the streak later in the quarter. He finished the night with 18 points.

After a buzzing-beating field goal from Jeff Green, Cleveland took an 82-79 lead into the final quarter.

Where the Bulls struggled throughout the first 23 games of the season, the fourth quarter lead-way to another winnable game; it’d likely require another hero to rise. Instead, a trio lifted the play of the team.

Denzel Valentine, Nikola Mirotic, and for the first time in a long time, Lauri Markkanen, lead the Bulls attack in the fourth. However, battling against a seasoned Cavaliers’ team meant a war was afoot.

Markkanen led the Bulls with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Most notably, Markkanen knocked-down an and-one three-pointer at the 2:12 mark to narrow Cleveland’s lead to a slim 109-106.

Cleveland then held the Bulls off, that was until on consecutive possessions, Mirotic and Valentine hit huge shots. At the 0:58 mark, Niko nailed a three and Valentine hit a spinning lay-up, narrowing the margin to just one.

The Cavs trailed just once in the quarter up to that point (on a Justin Holiday lay-up at the 7:46 mark) and intended to keep that trend in place.

LeBron James lowered his shoulder, manhandling the Bulls inside and hitting two key free throws at the 0:12 mark, pushing the lead to 115-112. LeBron lead the way for the Cavaliers, scoring 34 points, edging Cleveland to victory.

At the end of the fourth, Denzel Valentine hoisted a three-pointer, but missed, giving Cleveland their 115-112 victory. While tonight snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Bulls, their tight battle with Cleveland, on the road nonetheless, should give them some pride heading into Saturday’s game in Boston.