CLEVELAND — Zach LaVine scored 26 points, DeMar DeRozan added 20 and the Chicago Bulls stayed alone in the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 98-94 win Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who didn’t wake up until the fourth quarter.
The Bulls held the Cavs to just 35 points in the first half and won on the road for the first time since March 9, snapping a five-game slide.
Chicago, which is 4-8 in March, came in with a one-game lead over Cleveland for the fifth playoff spot.
With the loss and Toronto’s win, the Cavs fell into seventh place — one of the play-in positions — and are one game behind the Raptors, who beat Indiana 131-91.
Darius Garland scored 28 points and Caris LeVert had 17 in his second start for Cleveland since coming over in a February trade.
Down by 18 at halftime, the Cavs woke up and kept chipping away. They got within 10 several times before finally making a run and closing to 83-80 on LeVert’s dunk — off a nice dish from Garland — with 5:35 left.
The Cavs were still within four when the Bulls reeled off eight straight points on buckets by LaVine, DeRozan and two by rookie Ayo Dosunmu to open a 95-83 lead, sending many in the sellout crowd at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse toward the exits.
DeRozan missed the Bulls’ previous game with a groin strain, and spent a good chunk of the first half on the bench in foul trouble. But when Chicago needed a bucket, the All-Star forward came through with a mid-range jumper or drive.
The Cavs came out flat, sloppy and disconnected defensively in their biggest game so far in this turnaround season.
They weren’t much better on the offensive end, committing eight turnovers and going 1 of 18 on 3-pointers in scoring 35 points — matching a season low — in the first half.
Chicago pushed an eight-point lead after one to 19 in the second quarter, extending its advantage after DeRozan picked up his third foul and went to the bench with 7:55 left in the second period.
Bulls: G Alex Caruso added 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. … F Tristan Thompson was fined $20,000 by the league for directing profane language at a game official Thursday in New Orleans. … Chicago plays five of its final eight games at home and owns the season-ending tiebreaker over Toronto.
Cavaliers: Rookie F Evan Mobley had 11 rebounds. … Kevin Love made his 1,000th 3-pointer with Cleveland, joining LeBron James as the only players in team history to reach the plateau. … Lost for the first time in seven home games against Central Division opponents. … All-Star C Jarrett Allen missed his 10th straight game with a broken finger. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said Allen is getting closer to returning, but didn’t provide any kind of timetable. Allen’s pain has decreased, which has allowed him to do more on-court activity without risking further injury. … G Rajon Rondo (sprained ankle) and F Dean Wade (knee) both missed their seventh consecutive games.
Bulls: Visit New York on Monday night.
Cavaliers: Host Orlando on Monday night.