Kirk Hinrich redeemed himself in the eyes of every Bulls’ fan that wanted him traded because of his poor shooting earlier in the regular season. He stepped up his game tonight by burying 9-of-his 12 shots and spacing out the Cleveland defense in the Bulls’ 108-106 victory on Thursday in Game 3.
The Bulls played a nearly flawless first half. It was almost shocking to see Rose’s extremely difficult reverse lay-up attempt not fall in the bucket as the first half’s time expired – it was just that good. Chicago really put the pressure on Cleveland, early on, by running the floor and making all of the hustle plays. They continued to force the Cavs to take three-point jump-shots and were hitting seemingly everything the Cavs’ defense gave them. In the fourth quarter, the Cavs went on their run, and nearly stole the game from them after scoring 38 points. Mo Williams hit an off balanced 3-pointer to cut the Bulls’ lead to 1 with 3 seconds to go in the game. Luol Deng was fouled subsequently on the in-bound pass and made the first and missed the second attempt. Anthony Parker was forced to take a half-court shot due to Cleveland being out of timeout. Thankfully, it merely grazed the side of the rim and the mood was festive in the United Center.
The Bulls have cut Cleveland’s lead in this series down to 2-1. And most importantly, they proved they can hang with them. Cleveland at least should be concerned about what could happen back home in Ohio, if Chicago does what they hope to do and come up big again in Game 4 and even the series 2-2. Del Negro’s team has showed this year, and last, that they have a lot of fight in them. Backed by the talent of Derrick Rose and company, they look to go 6-0 in head-to-head playoffs series vs. the Cavaliers – continuing the woes of the city of Cleveland for yet another season.
LeBron James had 39-10-and 8 assists (on 5 turnovers). Derrick Rose had 31 and 7 assists (no turnovers). Joakim Noah filled up the box-score with 10-15-5 assists (only 1 turnover), and 2 blocked shots.
Game 4 will be on Sunday at 2:30 PM CST on ABC.