Final Dime: Heat 118, Cavaliers 90
Mo Williams finished with 11 points and six assists in Thursday's loss at The Q.
David Liam Kyle
Quicken Loans Arena was almost quaking in anticipation of the two-time MVP’s return, and rained a chorus of boos on James every time he touched the ball. But LeBron quickly quieted them at almost every turn, dropping 38 points on the Wine and Gold as the Heat rolled to the 118-90 win – handing Cleveland their second straight blowout at The Q.
It was beyond playoff intensity by the time the eagerly-anticipated matchup tipped off. TNT’s Charles Barkley received a massive pregame ovation and when Cavs owner Dan Gilbert appeared on the jumbotron, the arena reached a fever pitch.
James canned his first jumper less than two minutes into the game, but the Cavaliers went toe-to-toe with the heavyweights from South Florida – tying the game at 17-apiece late in the first. But LeBron keyed an 11-0 run that put Miami in the driver’s seat for the evening.
Ramon Sessions’ three-point play midway through the second quarter cut Miami’s lead to five – 36-31 – but James Jones got hot from beyond the arc and Miami upped their edge to 19 heading into the locker room.
After intermission, things went from bad to worse – led by LeBron, who went off for 24 points in the period, occasionally pausing to taunt the Cavaliers bench after another made basket. In the third, the Heat led by as many as 38 points – eventually closing the quarter up by 30.
In the fourth, tempers began boiling over – both on and off the floor. In the seats, security could be seen diffusing a pair of incidents between Heat and Cavalier fans. On the court, Daniel Gibson and Eddie House tangled late and were tagged with technical fouls. That tension spilled into the postgame – with House in the halls outside the locker room, reportedly looking for more.
“We didn’t move the ball well on offense and we didn’t do a good job on defense either,” lamented Anderson Varejao, who led Cleveland with eight boards. “Against teams like that if you do that, they are going to take advantage. That’s what they did and that’s why we lost.”
Boobie Gibson was one of the lone bright spots for the Wine and Gold on Thursday – leading Cleveland with 21 points on 6-for-14 shooting, including 4-of-6 from long-distance.
Three other Cavaliers finished with 11 points apiece. Mo Williams was 2-for-8 from the floor and was frustrated through much of the first half. Antawn Jamison added three boards, three assists and a pair of steals. Ramon Sessions came off the bench to lead Cleveland with seven assists in the loss.
As a team, the Heat shot 57 percent to the Cavaliers’ 36 and topped the 30-point mark in the first and third quarters. They out-rebounded the Wine and Gold, 43-35, and dished 30 assists to Cleveland’s 21. The damage could have been even worse if the Cavaliers hadn’t made 16 more trips to the stripe on Thursday night.
On the evening, LeBron finished 15-for-25 from the floor and 6-of-9 from the stripe, adding five boards, eight assists a steal and a blocked shot. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who got a big ovation when Miami’s starters were announced, was the only starter on either team not to crack the scoring column.
“I have nothing bad to say about these (Cleveland) fans,” said LeBron following the game. “I understand their frustration and I was frustrated also because we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to do at the end of the day. I wish this organization and these fans, which are great, the best.”
After facing two of the East’s top teams at The Q, the Cavaliers actually get a break on the road, where they’ll spend the next three games, beginning on Saturday when they travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves.
2. Before Thursday’s loss, the Wine and Gold had won five straight over the Heat – including five consecutive wins at The Q.
3. Daniel Gibson has now tallied double-figures in 11 of his last 14 outings.
4. Between LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, they hold the Cavaliers all-time marks in games played, points scored, scoring average, field goals and free throws made and attempted, rebounds, personal fouls, disqualifications, steals, blocked shots, minutes played and turnovers.
5. The Wine and Gold welcomed a slew of hometown heroes – each honored with Cavalier jerseys matching their own numbers, including Josh Cribbs, Bernie Kosar, Drew Carey, Shawn Rogers, Joe Haden, Travis Hafner and Jensen Lewis. Also on hand were Browns QB Colt McCoy and former Cavalier, Wally Szczerbiak.
6. Daniel Gibson came into Thursday’s game as the ninth-leading fourth-quarter scorer in the league, averaging 6.2 points in the final period. Against the Heat, Boobie notched nine of his 21 points in the closing quarter.
7. After snagging six defensive rebounds on Thursday, Anderson Varejao (1,829) is just one defensive rebound shy of tying Tyrone Hill (1,830) for eighth all-time in Cavaliers history.
8. Boobie canned four three-pointers on Thursday night and has made 379 in his Cavaliers career. He needs just two more triples to tie Craig Ehlo for fifth place on the Cavaliers all-time list.
9. Before the game, Zydrunas Ilgauskas talked about his former city and what he missed about it.
“I miss people – I miss my friends,” said Z. “I miss some of the places I used to eat. I don’t miss the weather. (It’s) little things that you miss. It’s home. I’ve been here a long time. This is where I grew up, basically. So certainly I miss it.”
10. After a relative kind schedule through the first month of the season, the Cavaliers will be on the road plenty over the next two. Cleveland plays seven of the next eight away from The Q and will host only five home games in the entire month of January.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.