Rip Hamilton, Carlos Boozer lead Bulls in win over Cavaliers
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com November 2, 2012 11:22PM
Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer dunks against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
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Updated: December 4, 2012 6:19AM
CLEVELAND — The nice thing about having the new Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland is that there’s always a place for disenchanted Cavaliers fans to go when a game gets out of hand and an early exit is called for.
That came about 12 minutes into the Bulls’ 115-86 victory Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. The Bulls opened up a 32-16 first-quarter lead and never let up.
Throw in a little extra motivation, and just like that, the Bulls had their first 2-0 start since the 2002-03 season.
The Cavs (1-1) had beaten the Bulls in the preseason, and that had not been forgotten. Coach Tom Thibodeau had the team staring at film the last 24 hours. And then a Cleveland fan opened up his mouth early in the third quarter and woke up Richard Hamilton.
“Some dude in the crowd called me old,’’ Hamilton said. “That’s what woke me up. He called me ‘Old Man River,’ some dude behind me. So I was like, ‘All right, I got something for you.’ ’’
Hamilton scored 14 of his 19 points in the third quarter and finished 8-for-12 from the field.
“A blind man could’ve seen that,’’ Nate Robinson said of why he kept feeding the ball to Hamilton in the third quarter. “You just keep hearing his name, ‘Rip Hamilton, Rip Hamilton.’ He got us going. That’s what we need from each guy.’’
Like they did against the Kings in the season opener, the Bulls benefitted from a pick-your-poison attack. Carlos Boozer had 19 points, and Kirk Hinrich (nine points) was the only starter who didn’t score in double figures because of foul trouble.
But that’s where Robinson stepped in, giving Thibodeau 16 points and 12 assists off the bench.
“That’s me, bring the energy,’’ Robinson said. “Everything else will take care of itself.
“For us, we watched a lot of film. We watched the last game we played against them, and they kind of blitzed us. They got after it. We ended up losing in the preseason, and we remembered that. We knew we were going to come here, play hard and get after them from the jump ball to the end. We did that.’’
That meant shooting 44-for-69 (64 percent) for the game, as well as finishing with 34 assists. Thibodeau has been preaching unselfishness, and the message is being heard.
“It’s hard to guard,’’ Hamilton said of having an unselfish offense. “When you got guys at every position that can score and make the right play, it puts pressure on the defense at all times. The floor always stays spaced, guys are scared to help.’’
Hamilton has scored 19 points in each of his first two games after averaging 11.6 last season.