Wade, Love, James lead surging Cavaliers over Bulls

CHICAGO (AP) – LeBron James could sense the Cleveland Cavaliers were starting to click the last time they lost. But a streak like this? He wasn’t about to say he saw that coming.

Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love each scored 24 points, James had 23 and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 113-91 Monday night for their 12th straight win.

Backed by a trio of stars, the Cavaliers matched their longest winning streak since the 2014-15 season. They dropped a tight game at Houston on November 9 and haven’t lost since. The streak started with wins at Dallas, New York and Charlotte.

“I’m not Nostradamus so I did not see the streak,” James said. “But in the Houston game, I’d seen the way we played in that game. And I’d seen that if we could build off that game, then we can kind of turn the things around. That was a great road trip for us.”

Wade made nine of 13 shots in his first game in Chicago since agreeing to a buyout with his hometown team in late September. Love grabbed 13 rebounds and made eight of 13 from the field. James finished nine of 15 with seven rebounds and six assists. The Cavaliers shot just under 52 per cent.

Kris Dunn led Chicago with 15 points. Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday scored 14 apiece as the Bulls fell to 3-19 with their ninth straight loss.

“When the lights turn on, for whatever reason, when things get tough, we stop doing the things that make us a solid team, that make us a team that gets a good shot,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We stop running the offence and go back and try to get it all on our own. We can’t do that. We have to keep playing together on both sides of the ball. … Everybody has to be on the same page out there and we had too many breakdowns again.”

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against Denzel Valentine of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. – AFP

The matchup between the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions and the team with the NBA’s worst record went as expected.

Third in the league in scoring coming into the game, the Cavaliers grabbed a 61-45 halftime lead.

James scored 15 in the half, driving hard and hitting from the perimeter while Wade chipped in with 12 points.

James’ jumper from up top in the closing seconds of the first quarter sparked a 13-0 run that broke open a five-point game. Wade scored six points during that stretch, helping Cleveland bump its lead to 40-22.

Love had 10 of his team’s first 13 points in the third as Cleveland increased it to 74-50. And the Cavaliers remained in control the rest of the way.

Derrick Rose ended his self-imposed separation from the Cavaliers. The point guard, who has been dealing with a sprained left ankle for much of his first season with Cleveland, returned to the Cavs on Monday to resume rehab and treatment. A frustrated Rose had left the team on November 22 to contemplate his future.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said the Bulls will decide after yesterday’s practice if forward Nikola Mirotic will travel with the team to Indiana.