CHICAGO -- LeBron James saw defenders come at him from all angles and did what he normally does. He made them look invisible.
This one came after a big performance in a 14-point win over Chicago at home Wednesday night. James scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to start a 15-0 run as the Cavaliers turned a three-point deficit into an 89-77 lead. And he hit two key 3-pointers with the defense on him after Chicago cut it to two in the closing minutes.
"When you come into somebody's building and make big shots like that to quiet the crowd, those bring smiles to my face," said James, who hit four of seven 3-pointers after going 1-for-19 through the first six games. "That's just how I've been playing lately. I've just been trying to keep a smile on my face and dominate at the same time."
It was a difficult night for the Bulls, who learned guard Kirk Hinrich will miss up to three months with a thumb injury. Andres Nocioni's 3-pointer made it 96-90 with 3:30 left and two more jumpers by Ben Gordon made it 96-94 with 2:15 remaining, but the Bulls simply could not pull it out.
James answered with a 3-pointer from the wing and, after two free throws by Gordon, struck again from long range, leaping after the shot went in. That made it 102-96 with 1:28 remaining, and the Cavaliers hung on from there.
James scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and wound up with 30 or more against Chicago for the seventh straight time. He hit 13 of 29 shots and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 16 points for Cleveland, which was coming off a 111-107 victory over Indiana on Friday night, but the night belonged to James.
"Even though we've seen him do some of this stuff over and over again, some of the stuff just catches you off guard," Ben Wallace said. "You're not really expecting it."
The Bulls took a 77-74 lead into the fourth, but went cold at the start.
James hit three free throws, a 3-pointer and a reverse layup to start the run. Daniel Gibson added a 3-pointer falling down and a layup, and Anderson Varejao finished it with a jumper that made it 89-77.
"The fourth quarter is where I make my name," James said. "That's the quarter where it's time to close the game out. I know I'm not going to do that every night, I'm not going to be perfect every night. But I try to put my team in position to win ballgames at the end of the game. I was able to do that for them tonight."
Chicago didn't score until Rose drove the lane with 7:33 left in the game, and the late charge that followed wasn't enough for the Bulls, who now have to a shortage in a backcourt that not too long ago was bursting at the seems.
Hinrich tore the ulnar collateral ligament trying to knock the ball away from Amare Stoudemire during Friday's win over Phoenix, leaving the Bulls without a reliable backup behind No. 1 draft pick Rose.
In his sixth season, Hinrich was averaging 8.3 points and 4.0 assists in mostly a backup role now that Rose is in the fold. Thabo Sefolosha started the first five games at shooting guard but struggled, so coach Vinny Del Negro went with Hinrich and Rose against the Suns.
Larry Hughes will figure into the backcourt mix once he returns from a dislocated right shoulder, but like Gordon and Sefolosha, he's not a point guard.
On Saturday, Gordon started with Rose in the backcourt and they figure to see more time together.
"I think we can still learn each other," Gordon said. "Especially with Kirk out, we're going to have to really jell quickly and get to know each other so we can help each other out."
- Besides Hinrich, the Bulls were missing F Drew Gooden. He sprained his right ankle Friday and is day to day.
- As if the injuries to Hinrich and Gooden weren't enough, Gordon was icing his lip before the game. Nothing serious, though. "Broken bone in my lip," he joked.
- This was Cleveland's third of four consecutive games against Central Division opponents.
- Cleveland lost both games at Chicago last season.