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Caris LeVert, Cavaliers hold off Bulls in closing seconds

Dec 31, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bulls forward Javonte Green (24) and Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) fight for a rebound against Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Caris LeVert scored 23 points and made a big defensive play to prevent DeMar DeRozan from hitting the game-winning shot as the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers survived a rocky finish and held on for a 103-102 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Cavaliers snapped their three-game losing streak thanks to LeVert, who replaced Darius Garland (sprained right thumb) in the starting lineup. LeVert scored Cleveland’s last basket when his floater in the lane made it 103-96 with 2:03 remaining.

Cleveland’s inability to close out the game allowed Chicago to get a chance at the win on the final possession.

DeRozan made a strong move to the hoop to make it 103-102 with 29.8 seconds left, and on the next possession LeVert was called for a shot clock violation with 5.8 seconds left.

Following the timeout to advance the ball, Alex Caruso easily inbounded the ball to DeRozan. He made a move to the baseline, but he had to try a 15-footer over LeVert at the horn and the shot fell short, with the Cavaliers’ Cedi Osman secured the rebound.

LeVert made 10 of 19 shots in only his third start since Nov. 16. Kevin Love added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers, who survived a rough night from star Donovan Mitchell and also played without Evan Mobley (sore right ankle) while shooting 45.9 percent.

Mitchell finished with 15 points — 13 below his average — on 5-of-16 shooting and also committed seven turnovers.

DeRozan scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the Bulls, who fell to 5-2 since allowing 150 points in Minnesota on Dec. 18. Ayo Dosunmu added 19 points and Zach LaVine 15 for the Bulls, who shot 48.1 percent and recorded a season-high 15 steals.

Chicago shot nearly 61 percent and held a 30-28 lead after the opening quarter, but Cleveland ripped off a 13-0 run and took a 46-36 edge on LeVert’s 3-pointer with 8:16 remaining before taking a 60-55 lead by halftime.

After Robin Lopez’s hook built an 82-68 lead, the Bulls ended the third with a 9-2 run and were within 84-77 on a layup by Coby White at the horn.

–Field Level Media