Final Dime: Cavaliers 102, Heat 90
Anthony Parker was 4-for-4 from long-distance in Tuesday's win at The Q.
David Liam Kyle
Led by a pair of unlikely heroes, the Wine and Gold notched their biggest win of the year – literally – dropping their new South Florida nemeses in convincing fashion, 102-90, before a frenzied sellout crowd in Cleveland.
Tuesday’s matchup with Miami didn’t come with the hype that surrounded James’ first return to The Q, but Byron Scott’s squad was geared-up from the opening tip anyway – led by center Ryan Hollins, whose intensity set the tone for the entire evening.
The win was nowhere near as easy as the final score might indicate.
In just the third quarter alone, the Cavaliers went on an 18-0 run to jump out to a 23-point lead. But Miami countered with a 19-1 run that got them to within five with just over a minute to play in the third.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one period – Christian Eyenga snapped Miami’s run with a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds to play in the quarter, only to be topped by LeBron, who sunk a 53-footer at the buzzer to cut Cleveland’s lead to five, 75-50, heading into the fourth. (More on that later.)
In the fourth, Miami continued to chip away at Cleveland’s lead, and when Mike Bibby canned his seventh three-pointer of the night with 7:18 to play, the Cavaliers edge was erased.
But instead of folding to the surging Heat, the Cavaliers answered with a 12-0 run, punctuated by Anthony Parker’s fall-away trey directly in front of Miami’s bench with just 2:45 remaining.
LeBron scored on the following possession, but Baron Davis’ layup put Cleveland back up by a dozen, 97-85 – the Cavaliers’ final margin of victory.
The Cavaliers were led by J.J. Hickson, who finished with 21 points and 12 boards. Hickson went 6-of-13 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the stripe.
“We felt like the first time they played us here at The Q, they took something away from us,” said Hickson. “We went on a 26-game skid. It felt good to come in here and get a win and compete above anything.”
Hickson may have led Cleveland statistically, but its energy and aggressiveness was supplied by Hollins – who got under Dwyane Wade’s skin almost from the opening tap. The former UCLA standout set the game’s physical tone – swatting three Miami shots – including his second block of Chris Bosh, which led to a dish and dunk from Baron Davis on the other end.
Hollins finished with 13 points on the night, going 3-for-4 from the floor and 7-of-12 from the stripe with three boards and a pair of steals.
Anthony Parker played his best game of the year, and after coming into Tuesday having gone just 10 of his previous 41 from the floor, couldn’t seem to miss against Miami. Parker finished 7-of-9 from the floor, canning all four bombs he attempted – adding seven boards and a pair of assists.
“That was such a great feeling because I thought the first time we played them here, we were embarrassed and they took a little bit from us,” said Parker. “This was the night that we wanted to get that back.”
Ramon Sessions came off the Cavaliers bench to tally 11 points, six boards and six assists. Baron Davis added 10 points and a team-high seven assists in the win.
LeBron led Miami with 27 points, though he scored 13 of those in the opening period. Bibby followed up with 23 points, with all of his field goals coming from three-point range.
The 12-point victory was Cleveland’s largest margin of the season. The Cavaliers – who were blown out by 28 in Miami’s previous trip to the North Coast – never trailed on Tuesday night.
The Cavaliers traveled to Charlotte right after Tuesday’s win to prepare for a battle with the Bobcats on Wednesday.
2. LeBron James warmed up with the Heat before Tuesday’s matchup, but returned to the visitor’s locker room to use the restroom for the National Anthem and was absent when he was introduced with Miami’s starting five. Other than jawing with some courtside fans, Tuesday’s game passed without incident. AFter the game, he exchanged quick handshakes with Daniel Gibson, Byron Scott and Chris Jent.
“The atmosphere is always good here,” said James, following the loss. “Even when I played here the atmosphere was great. The fans are unbelievable and I’ve always said that. And it was great for their team tonight.”
3. Since Jan. 9, J.J. Hickson is third in the NBA in offensive rebounding, and with 155, trails only Dwight Howard (165) and Zach Randolph (162).
4. J.J. notched his fourth straight double-double – his 21st of the season – on Tuesday night. Over his last four outings, the third-year forward is averaging 18.0 points and 14.2 boards per contest.
5. Baron Davis got his first start with the Cavaliers on Tuesday night, but was still held to 24 minutes of action. Davis was 4-for-10 from the floor and 3-of-10 from long-distance, including a bomb at the first half buzzer to stave off an 8-0 Miami run.
6. Zydrunas Ilgauskas talked Tuesday morning about hanging out in Cleveland on Monday night.
“I went to my neighbor’s house, grilled some steaks … and had some Great Lakes beer,” said Z. “So I had a great local evening.”
7. At the end of the third quarter, LeBron James’ buzzer beater caused about an eight-minute delay while the referees checked the replay. It was determined that the clock, which began with 1.9 seconds remaining, started before LeBron touched it, and James was awarded the basket. Later Tuesday night, however, the NBA’s Stu Jackson confirmed that the shot should not have counted.
In the words of Jackson, officials should have "gone to replay and determine how much time LeBron actually had the ball in his hands. Then at that point, subtract that time from the time on the clock which was 1.9 and then whatever that time remaining is – in this case, it looked to be either nine tenths or a second – they then needed to have Miami inbound the ball on the sideline at the nearest point of the interruption."
8. The Cavaliers shot 56 percent from the floor on Tuesday night, including 52 percent from three-point range. They shot 36 percent in their Dec. 2 matchup.
10. The Cavaliers haven't only won 10 games at The Q this season, but among them have been wins over the Lakers, Celtics and Heat. They’ve beaten New York twice on the corner of Huron and Ontario and will look for the four-game sweep when they wrap up the three-game roadie on Sunday night.
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.