Cavs Top World Champs at The Q
David Liam Kyle
With 2:45 to play and Cleveland trailing by one, Irving canned a layup to put the Cavs ahead. Anderson Varejao hit a jumper to push the lead to three. But Jason Terry got Dallas within a point with a pair of free throws.
On the next possession, with the wound-up crowd on its feet, Irving wheeled his way through the Dallas defense and spun home a tight reverse layup off the glass to put the Wine and Gold up three with 15.8 to play.
The Mavericks missed a pair of game-tying attempts as time expired and the Cavaliers sealed their biggest win of the season – knocking off the NBA Champs in a 91-88 thriller on Saturday night in Cleveland.
“I told (Irving) to just run this one play that we have been running,” explained Coach Byron Scott. “Just keep the ball in his hands to where he can make a decision. Be aggressive and look to score for himself or see if he can get it to his teammates – and he was able to get it all the way to the basket.”
Irving led the Cavaliers with 20 points – adding seven assists, four boards, two steals and just a single turnover. But he was just one of the heroes from Saturday’s big win.
“I just feel my teammate’s confidence down the stretch,” said Irving. “They continue to give me the ball and they have the confidence in me to make the right play, whether if it’s for myself or them. Once you have that confidence, it’s easy going into the fourth quarter.”
Anderson Varejao continues his incredible tear – matching his uniform number with 17 points and 17 boards, going 8-for-13 from the floor with three assists.
In his last three contests, the Wild Thing is averaging 16.3 points and 17.3 rebounds (including 6.7 off the offensive glass).
Antawn Jamison added 19 points and nine boards to round out the starters in double-figures. And the Cavaliers got another strong showing from a pair of big bench players – Alonzo Gee and Ramon Sessions.
Gee followed up a career-high 20-point night on Friday with 12 more on Saturday against Dallas – netting seven of those in the fourth quarter. Sessions didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but led both teams in assists for the third straight game, tallying eight helpers off Byron Scott’s bench.
Dirk Nowtizki led everyone with 24 points – hitting his first five shots before half, but missing all five attempts in the third quarter. That’s when the Wine and Gold made their hay, going on a 13-0 run after intermission to take control of the contest.
After a day off to enjoy the Super Bowl, the Cavaliers travel to Miami for a rematch with the Heat on Tuesday night.