The irony is Pau Gasol had been pretty terrible defensively all night. His recognition and rotations were poor, and if Joakim Noah had been healthy (he banged knees in the third quarter and did not return), Gasol likely would have been on the bench.
But with the game on the line, Gasol came up with his sixth block of the night, using his length on LeBron James, and it preserved a 97-95 Bulls win in the season opener.
This was a sloppy game for both teams, the Cavaliers’ offense sputtered without Kyrie Irving and with LeBron still someone slowed by his back (25 points on 12-22 shooting). They also really missed Iman Shumpert‘s defense.
But credit the Bulls, they made the plays to get the win. Nikola Mirotic had 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting (3-of-4 from three) to lead the Bulls, while an attacking Derrick Rose had 18 points on 22 shots.
It almost wasn’t enough, the Cavaliers almost stole the game, set up by some late Kevin Love threes. But that’s where Gasol came in.