LeBron James took it upon himself to even the Cleveland Cavaliers' Eastern Conference semifinals clash with the Chicago Bulls at one game each Wednesday night, leading his team to a 106-91 Game 2 win.
The superstar—once again wearing a headband—finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and five assists at Quicken Loans Arena.
ESPN Stats & Info put his incredible performance into perspective:
After finishing with just 19 points in the Game 1 loss, James worked to be more aggressive on the floor Wednesday. He explained his thoughts for Game 2 before the contest, via Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:
I might have to change my mindset a little bit obviously with Kev [Love] being out. ... I've never kind of went into a game saying, 'OK. I'm going to be ultra aggressive to start a game.' I've always had that feel-out thing, but last night it was little bit too much feel-out. I think I only had two shots at one point. I just was not aggressive offensively as I was defensively.
Although he still is struggling to find his outside shot in the playoffs, he did more than enough to lead his team to an easy victory. Nick Friedell of ESPN.com summed up the action:
Kyrie Irving helped by showing off his efficiency with 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Iman Shumpert also came through with a key 15 points.
Derrick Rose was able to fill up the box score for the Bulls with 14 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, although his 6-of-20 performance from the field wasn't as much of a help. Jimmy Butler had 18 points but also finished minus-26 while on the floor.
Cleveland simply came through with a stronger team effort, while the 12-of-26 three-point shooting helped secure the important win.
The game started just about as well as the Cavaliers could have hoped, as some hot shooting led to an early lead. Joe Gabriele of Cavs.com noted the parallel from the last game:
It stayed one-sided throughout the first quarter with Cleveland racking up a 20-point lead by its conclusion. Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio gave his thoughts on the early play:
The second quarter wasn't too much better for Chicago, as James kept up the pressure with plays like this:
He finished the first half with 22 points, and the Cavaliers went into halftime with a 64-45 lead. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune broke down the difference in the game:
After being down as many as 25 points in the third quarter, however, the Bulls finally came alive with a 14-0 run to make it interesting. Amy Lawrence of CBS Sports Radio looked at the emotion for both sides at the time:
Unfortunately for the road team, this didn't last long, as the Cavaliers went back up 87-71 heading into the fourth quarter and couldn't pull much closer. As the game continued, the inability to compete on the glass doomed the Bulls, as noted by Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
Tristan Thompson got the start and finished with 12 rebounds as a quiet key to the team's victory.
Cleveland was able to maintain the lead throughout the fourth quarter and walked away with a 15-point win. It was a comprehensive victory for the Cavs, as Johnson points out:
Even with the blowout loss that was worse than the score indicates, Bulls fans should remain upbeat going forward, as Scottie Pippen pointed out:
The two teams will have just one day of rest before returning to action in Game 3. Friday's battle will take place in Chicago, where the Bulls were 27-14 during the regular season.
While the Cavaliers evened the series, they still need to find a way to win at the United Center to regain control.
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