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CHICAGO (AP) – LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers just might be at their lowest point since the King came home three years ago. Either way, they’ll have to do better than this if they’re going to be crowned again.
Nikola Mirotic tied season highs with 28 points and six 3-pointers, Jimmy Butler scored 25, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Cavaliers 99-93 Thursday on a night when James moved into seventh place on the NBA’s career scoring list.
James passed Shaquille O’Neal, finishing with 26 points. That gave him 28,599 for his career – three more than O’Neal. But the big night by the four-time MVP couldn’t prevent the Cavaliers from matching a season high with their third straight loss.
That dropped the defending champions a half-game behind Boston for the Eastern Conference lead and left them with a 6-10 record in March.
“Just in a bad spot right now,” said James, who had 10 rebounds and eight assists. “I’m not disappointed with the effort. Just in a bad spot. We need to figure it out.”
For Mirotic, it was his second straight game with 28 points and six 3s. He also had 10 rebounds, finishing a strong March.
“I feel it’s my time now. It’s never too late,” he said. “It’s a very important moment for the team.”
Rajon Rondo added 15 assists, Robin Lopez had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and the ninth-place Bulls moved within a game of Miami and Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings.
They also finished 4-0 against Cleveland to complete their first sweep of the Cavaliers since they took all three games during the 2011-12 season.
Kyrie Irving scored 20 for the Cavaliers, while Tristan Thompson added 15 points and nine rebounds.