CLEVELAND — A big night by Andrew Bynum resulted in a good night for the Cavaliers.
The 7-foot, 294-pound center had far and away his best performance of the season Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena, helping the struggling Cavs halt a five-game losing streak with a 97-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
“It felt good,” Bynum said. “I won’t lie to you.”
After missing all of last season due to surgery on both knees, Bynum had shown some positive signs, but he took it to another level as Cleveland (5-12) hung on to beat the Bulls (7-8).
Bynum established season highs in points (20), rebounds (10), blocks (5) and minutes (30) and looked good while doing it.
“Tonight everybody saw a little bit of what Andrew is capable of bringing to the table for us,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said.
In the first period, Bynum swatted two Joakim Noah shots on one possession to get a 24-second violation on the Bulls. In the third period, he snuffed a layup attempt by driving point guard Kirk Hinrich, then rejected Noah, who finished 2-for-10 from the field, again later in the quarter.
“That’s my job,” Bynum said. “I try to do it. Today I was able to have a little more bounce. I was able to protect the rim.”
The 26-year-old was just as good offensively, going 8-for-14 from the field and 4-for-4 at the line while dishing out three assists.
“He was big for us offensively, he was big for us on the glass and he was big protecting the rim,” Brown said.
The Cavs were up 14 with 10½ minutes left in the game, but Chicago went on a 20-5 run behind small forward Luol Deng (27 points, 11 assists) and shooting guard Tony Snell (18 points) to take an 88-87 lead with 3:59 to go.
Brown called timeout at that point and gave his players a simple message: Get the ball to Bynum. The Cavs did that and the big man scored inside to give Cleveland a lead it never relinquished.
“You could see the bounce coming back,” Brown said. “That’s exciting because he’s very skilled and a big man. You get that bounce back, it could be very good for us.”
On their ensuing possession, the Bulls botched a sideline inbounds pass following a timeout and Kyrie Irving (19 points on 7-for-21 shooting, six assists) drove for a layup to put the Cavs up three.
Two buckets by Dion Waiters, whose 20 points gave him three straight games with at least that many, capped an 8-0 run and put the Cavs up 95-88 with 1:32 to go.
A Deng 3-pointer and Carlos Boozer hoop made it 95-93 with 40.9 seconds left. Then Bynum, who was forced to catch a pass too far from the basket, hit the side of the backboard with a jump hook.
The Bulls called timeout with 17.4 seconds left and missed four straight shots when play resumed. Deng missed a runner, Noah had two good looks at a tip-in and Boozer had another, but none fell.
Tristan Thompson (14 points, 14 rebounds) then made two free throws with 9.0 seconds remaining to ice the game for the Cavs.
“They were trying to rush to get the ball tipped in,” Brown said. “You think about Andrew Bynum around the rim, you’re trying to get your shot off as quick as possible.”
Cleveland used its eighth different starting lineup — Irving, C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Thompson and Bynum — in 17 games, but it may not be its last.
“The way we’re sitting record-wise, I feel like I have the right to change my starting lineup whenever I feel the need,” Brown said.
Irving started strong, helping the Cavs jump to a 9-0 lead in the first 1:51.
* Cavs forward Earl Clark missed the game due to illness.
* The Bulls will be without point guard Derrick Rose, who underwent knee surgery, for the rest of the season.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.
Cavs 97, Bulls 93
CHICAGO (93): Deng 12-20 1-1 27, Boozer 5-13 2-2 12, Noah 2-10 0-2 4, Hinrich 5-10 1-2 12, Snell 7-12 1-4 18, Gibson 7-10 4-4 18, Dunleavy 1-6 0-0 2, James 0-1 0-0 0, Mohammed 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 39-82 9-15 93.
CLEVELAND (97): Gee 2-4 0-0 5, Thompson 4-7 6-8 14, Bynum 8-14 4-4 20, Irving 7-21 4-5 19, Miles 2-5 0-0 6, Waiters 8-10 2-2 20, Jack 2-6 0-0 5, Varejao 3-7 0-0 6, Dellavedova 0-1 0-0 0, Bennett 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 37-78 16-19 97.
Chicago 25 26 15 27 — 93
Cleveland 27 29 21 20 — 97
3-Point Goals—Chicago 6-15 (Snell 3-5, Deng 2-5, Hinrich 1-1, James 0-1, Dunleavy 0-3), Cleveland 7-15 (Waiters 2-2, Miles 2-3, Gee 1-1, Jack 1-2, Irving 1-5, Thompson 0-1, Bennett 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Chicago 45 (Noah 8), Cleveland 48 (Thompson 14). Assists—Chicago 31 (Deng 11), Cleveland 20 (Irving 6). Total Fouls—Chicago 22, Cleveland 18. Technicals—Chicago Coach Thibodeau. A—17,296 (20,562).