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The Cleveland Cavaliers can finally close the book on LeBron James. Well, maybe that isn’t the case but the Cavaliers took a major step in that direction tonight beating the Miami Heat at Quicken Loans Arena 102-90. P
Perhaps most gratifying is not the win itself, but how the Cavaliers won. A game that was dictated by large runs by both teams, the Cavaliers recovered from giving up leads of 16 and 23 to hold on to the win.
The Cavaliers led 50-34 with 2 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter only to see Miami score 8 straight points to cut the lead to 8. Up 11 at halftime, the Heat scored the first 6 points of the 3rd quarter to cut the Cavaliers lead to 53-48. The Cavs then scored 18 straight points to lead 71-48 before the Heat made another run, this time to end the third quarter. A LeBron James half-court three at the buzzer made the score 75-70 Cavaliers heading to the final 12 minutes.
The Heat actually ties the game at 83-83 with 6:28 to go before the Cavaliers used a 12-0 run to take control and put the game away.
Anthony Parker scored 20 points for the Cavaliers while J.J. Hickson scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Baron Davis, who set the tone for the game by saying the Cavaliers would be all business this time around scored 10 points and dished out 7 assists in 24 minutes. Davis was clearly in discomfort, bothered by a sore knee.
LeBron James scored 27 points while Dwyane Wade added 24 for the Heat. Mike Bibby was huge as well, scoring 23 points on 7-11 from deep. The Cavaliers shot 55% from the field and outrebounded the Heat 44-30.
In what might be his last game at The Q, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was held scoreless in 7 minutes.
In a game earlier this year in which the Cavs fans vented at LeBron James, the Cavaliers players responded three months later with a monumental upset of the Heat. Miami and their big three never led in the game, but came within a score.
That was when the Cavaliers came up with perhaps their biggest plays of the year. Guard Baron Davis alley-ooped to Ryan Hollins to prove some authority, and Anthony Parker, who had 20 points for the Cavs, took it right back the other way with a goal-tending three point play. J.J. Hickson added a gorgeously swift dunk with 21, but Parker and his three point shooting made some big plays for the Cavs.
Miami’s Mike Bibby broke out going 7-for-11 from three point range, totaling 23 points, but it wasn’t enough heat for Miami. Although his presence was anything but, LeBron quietly recorded a triple double with 27 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds; but all efforts went down in vain.
The Cavs never trailed in the game, controlling rebounds 44-30, and thus, the pace of the game. The Heat could never run the floor the way they can because the Cavaliers shut them down.
Enjoy it Cavalier fans! This is their best win of the year versus an unsuspecting villain.
Whoever said that emotions weren’t running high in this game, as LeBron James and the Miami Heat returned to the Q was wrong; dead wrong. Apparently, it is the Cavs that are on an extra adrenaline rush, looking for payback as LeBron James skipped his introduction by the public address announcer. He got rejected by Christian Eyenga in transition, a feat that Cavs fans grew accustomed to when James was in Cleveland. He also lost his “hard hat” as described by color commentator Austin Carr.
Cavalier center Ryan Hollins was one player in particular playing with some additional vigor. Words were exchanged between himself and Miami guard Dwayne Wade, then Hollins then jumped in Wade’s face in rebuttal. Hollins and the Cavs soon made Wade eat those words; whatever Wade said.
The wine and gold led by as many as 16 after shooting an competent 57.6% from the field. The bench outscored that of the Heat 20-6, and the team shot 5-of-7 from the three land, out clashed Miami on the boards 20-12.
Where has this been all year?
Everyone for Cleveland is contributing; eight players have scored four plus points, with Baron Davis, Ryan Hollins, and J.J. Hickson all with eight or more. Davis’s three point shot buried with zero’s on the game clock iced the momentum headed into the locker room.
Baron Davis scored 8 points, including a three right before halftime to end an 8-0 Heat run that had cut a 50-34 Cavaliers lead to single digits in under 2 minutes. J.J. Hickson has 9 points, Ryan Hollins 8 points and Luke Harangody 7 points for the Cavaliers who shot 57.6% from the field and out-rebounded the Heat 20-12 in the first 24 minutes.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair with the teams ending the first 12 minutes in a 24-24 tie. LeBron James was active in the first half, scoring 13 points while dishing out 6 assists and Dwyane Wade had 12 points. The rest of the Heat combined to score just 17 points, however, with the Cavaliers bench outscoring Miami’s 20-6.
In the Cavaliers first match up against LeBron James and the Big Three of the Miami Heat, the encounter on the floor was strictly a three star studded one, at least on the opposition's side. But the real battle was between James and the Cavalier Fans; as expected. The ambiance of the Quicken Loans Arena was more like that of a war zone rather than an NBA game, with plastic beer cups and hateful chants of decadent mockery towards a city's one time "chosen one." Yet somehow, James and the Heat endured. But this time around, hopefully, the battle of the best player in the NBA versus the fans he once called friends will not be so lethally destructive.
Much was on the line in that game back on December 2nd, not in the form of a playoff spot, but with a cities respect for its one time superstar figure. Nobody had to say it, but perhaps the King himself said it best on his Nike commercial to "clear the decks and start over." It was a turning point, not just for LeBron and his fans respect, or lack thereof for him, but in both team's seasons. Looking back, it is difficult to fathom the fact that the Cavaliers were a mediocre 7-10 at the time, and the Heat were the ones struggling to cope with the transformations to come.
They are now on opposite ends. Miami has excelled ever since their demolishing of the Cavs at 41-14. James tallied up 38 points in the competition, 24 of which came in the third quarter. He persisted that it was nothing personal, but the jumbo-tron at the Q would supports other theories.
It has been nearly nine months since "The Decision" and three months since the most hated team in the NBA stepped onto the Quicken Loans hardwood. The Cavaliers are looking for a different outcome both in team performance, and from their fans. Their focus now is solely on one thing: beating the Miami Heat. That's what it should have been in their last meeting, rather than exchanging hugs with one time friend, and current foe.
This time, the Cavs will go it without Anderson Varejao and Antawn Jamison. Forward Samardo Samuels is also slated to miss tonight's game with a sprained right wrist. Unfortunately, the Cavs caught the Heat at full strength, now tied with the Boston Celtics for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
LeBron may have taunted the Cavs bench in the December 2nd collision, but, according to him "I have the utmost respect for this franchise, the utmost respect for these fans." Optimistically speaking, Cavs fans will realize this, and support their current team, rather than jeer a huge part of their old one.