CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cavaliers struggle to win without LeBron James.
LeBron James didn’t play on Saturday night.
You can see where this is going.
Playing without their ill superstar, Cleveland dropped their 19th game in 23 tries without James since 2014, falling to the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena, 117-99.
With James staying home to battle what head coach Tyronn Lue revealed to be strep throat, the Cavs managed to hold a one-point lead at halftime, but Chicago outscored Cleveland 34-20 in the third quarter to open up an advantage they would never relinquish in the final period.
In the absence of their All-Star small forward, Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 34 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but a starting lineup featuring Irving, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson was unable to sustain their level of play over the entire evening.
Dwyane Wade paced the Bulls with 20 points, finishing a rebound shy of a triple-double, and Jimmy Butler chipped in 18 to lift Chicago over Cleveland in Saturday’s primetime matchup.
Kyle Korver and James Jones added 14 points each, but it wasn’t enough for the Cavs to close the gap, falling to 0-4 in games without James this season. Korver left the game late in the fourth quarter after suffering a knee injury under the basket but returned to the bench before the end of the game.
The sharp-shooting guard felt “fortunate” to learn that he did not suffer any ligament damage in the right knee.
“I landed kind of short-legged,” he said. “You’ve seen a lot of bad injuries when that happens, but I think I’m going to be OK.”
Cleveland will hope to have James and Korver back on the floor Monday when they welcome the Milwaukee Bucks to the Q, but their availability for the next few days remains a question.