CHICAGO — Forward LeBron James compiled 15 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated the Chicago Bulls with a 94-73 win in game six of an Eastern Conference semifinal series Thursday night.
Guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 19 points off the bench for Cleveland, which won the final three games of the series. Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson added 13 points and 17 rebounds.
Cleveland advances to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign. The Cavaliers will meet the winner of the semifinal series between the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards. Game one is scheduled for Wednesday.
Guard Jimmy Butler scored 20 points to lead the Bulls. Guard Derrick Rose contributed 14 points and six assists. Forward Pau Gasol managed eight points and five rebounds in his return from an injured hamstring.
The Cavaliers led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter, which they entered with a 73-60 advantage.
Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving watched most of the game from the bench after injuring his left knee with 9:47 remaining in the second quarter. Irving cringed after stepping on Thompson’s foot and needed help to reach the locker room, but he returned to the bench several minutes later. He was listed as probable to return but remained on the bench as the Cavaliers built a comfortable lead.
Cleveland led 58-44 at halftime after closing the second quarter on a 20-4 run with Irving on the bench.
The Cavaliers were on top 41-40 when Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic clotheslined Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert on a drive toward the basket. Mirotic received a flagrant-1 foul on the play. Shumpert responded by scoring six consecutive points, and he finished the quarter with 11 points in 12 minutes. he finished the game with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulls scored four points in the final 6:38 of the first half. They shot 2-for-10 during that span.
Thompson scored 10 points in the first quarter to help Cleveland grab a 33-31 lead. Chicago led 25-18 after guard Mike Dunleavy drilled a 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 run. The Cavaliers responded with a 15-6 surge that included an acrobatic layup by Thompson as he crashed to the hardwood.
NOTES: Bulls F Pau Gasol returned to the starting lineup after missing two games because of a strained left hamstring. Chicago shot 37.7 percent (66 of 175) without Gasol in Games 4 and 5. … Cavaliers G Iman Shumpert started ahead of G J.R. Smith for the fourth consecutive game. … Bulls F Taj Gibson returned to the bench after starting back-to-back games in place of Gasol. … Cavaliers coach David Blatt praised his team for filling the scoring void of F Kevin Love, who is out for the playoffs because of a shoulder injury. “I think we’ve made up pretty well for his absence on offense,” Blatt said. “At times, it’s tough. That’s what makes Kevin special.” … Bulls C Joakim Noah won the Professional Basketball Writers Association’s 2014-15 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for outstanding service to the community.