Final Dime: Cavaliers 100, Sixers 95
Delonte West notched 17 points off the bench in Friday's win.
Nathaniel S. Butler
The Wine and Gold uncharacteristically got beat in the paint and on the boards and struggled again from the stripe, but a well-rested LeBron James mitigated the damage, leading the Wine and Gold with 23 points as Cavaliers swept the Sixers with the 100-95 win.
After getting a pair of games off, James returned to the lineup – going 7-for-18 from the floor, adding 10 assists, six boards and three blocks, including a massive rejection of Elton Brand with 2:24 to play.
“Defensively, in the second half LeBron had some big plays for us on the weak side,” said Coach Brown. “He definitely made some spectacular plays on the weak side coming up with a block at the rim and even coming up with tipped balls and steals. That was part of the reason why we were able to get the win.”
“I felt a little off rhythm a little bit,” added James. “My wind was a little off, but it felt great to get back on the court with the guys. It was good especially to get a win on the road.”
The Sixers led by five early in the fourth quarter, but Jamario Moon followed a Mo Williams’ trey with five straight points to give the Cavaliers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. But that doesn’t mean that Cleveland was able to shake the scrappy Sixers.
Philly had a chance to tie the game late, trailing 98-95, with 24 seconds and the ball. But Delonte West picked off Jrue Holiday’s pass along the baseline, sinking two free throws on the other end to seal the deal.
Mo Williams notched 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, canning two of his four three-pointers in the final period.
The Cavaliers made up for some sloppy play by thoroughly dominating the Sixers off the bench, 44-20.
Without the services of Antawn Jamison – back in Cleveland nursing a stiff knee – and Shaquille O’Neal, it was Leon Powe’s turn in the starting frontcourt. Powe took the collar in his first start as a Cavalier, but Anderson Varejao came off the bench to notch 12 points and 12 boards in the win.
Delonte West pitched in with 17 points off Mike Brown’s bench – including a thunderous first half jam and the clutch free throws to ice the victory.
Andre Iguodala led the Sixers with 30 points, but couldn’t keep Philly from dropping their fourth straight at the Wachovia Center. Despite their dominance in the paint and on the glass, the Sixers shot just 13 percent from beyond the arc and 56 percent from the line.
The Cavaliers return home for a day off before facing the Celtics – looking to avenge a 20-point beating – on Sunday afternoon at The Q.
2. The Cavaliers have now won seven in a row at the Wachovia Center and have taken eight of the last nine overall against the Sixers.
3. LeBron James made his return after getting a pair of games off. He doubled-up on Friday night and, in the six games in which he's had three or more days rest, LeBron’s notched 34-or-more points in four of them.
4. Antawn Jamison missed his first game as a Cavalier, still nursing some stiffness in his left knee. He didn’t make the trip to Philadelphia and it’s still uncertain whether or not he’ll suit up on Sunday.
5. The Cavaliers lead the league in first-quarter scoring and, after netting 36 points in the opening period on Friday, topped the 30-point plateau for the 26th time this season.
6. With Boston hosting – (and trouncing) – the Pacers at the Garden on Friday night, the Cavaliers moved percentage points ahead of the Celtics for the league’s best road record at 23-11.
7. The Cavaliers swept the season series against Philly for the first time since 1996-97.
8. The Wine and Gold’s seven-game road winning streak against the Sixers is second-longest against one team in franchise history. Coincidentally, the longest streak is against the same team, as Cleveland won 12 straight in the City of Brotherly Love between 1991 and 1997.
9. The Cavaliers are 9-1 this year when Anderson Varejao turns in a double-double; 29-5 all-time.
10. Anderson and LeBron James remain the two most efficient players in the NBA. In terms of plus/minus ratio, LeBron is a league-best +545, or +8.7 points per game. The Wild Thing is right behind at +472, +7.5 per contest.