Cavs Come Back, Top Magic in OT
Wrap-Up – The Wine and Gold were on the verge of dropping their seventh straight – down nine points with just over a minute to play and without the services of the man known as Mr. Fourth Quarter. But Magic miscues and missed free throws gave Dion Waiters the opportunity to tie game on a driving layup with 0.6 to play. In the overtime period, Anderson Varejao capped his record-setting night – scoring six of the Cavaliers’ eight points to seal the dramatic 87-81 win on Thursday night at The Q.
Thursday marked the Cavaliers’ third straight overtime affair at home and their fourth in their last five contests at Quicken Loans Arena.
Varejao tied a franchise record while setting a personal high with 25 rebounds to go with a game-high 18 points. Tristan Thompson also doubled-up with 16 points and 10 boards. Dion Waiters came off the bench to notch 11 of his 17 points in the fourth period, including the game-tying layup. Jarrett Jack, starting in place of Irving – who was sidelined with a left knee contusion – netted 14 points and a team-high seven assists. C.J. Miles added 14 points of his own, going 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
The Cavaliers shot just 34 percent from the floor on Thursday, but – behind Varejao and Thompson – out-rebounded the Magic by 10 and scored 10 more points in the paint. More importantly, Cleveland committed just two turnovers after intermission.
Turning Point – As Jarrett Jack said in his postgame interview, Thursday’s matchup was “an ugly-a** game.” But, as far as the Cavs were concerned, the final 94 seconds of regulation were a thing of beauty. After Glen Davis split a pair of free throws, the Cavs cut it to seven, 79-72, on a pair of free throws. Jameer Nelson fouled Jarrett Jack on a three-point attempt and Jack canned all three to cut it to four. The Magic were whistled for a five-second call that gave the ball back to Cleveland and Waiters scored on a layup. The Cavaliers got a little lucky with 9.3 to play when E’Twaun Moore missed a pair of free throws, opening the door for Waiters’ game-tying drive to send it to OT.
Game Ball – Anderson Varejao – The Wild Thing was exactly that on Thursday night, setting an arena mark and tying a Cavaliers’ franchise record that had stood alone for over four decades (set by Rick Roberson, March 1972 at Houston). Andy was 8-for-17 from the floor and 2-of-4 from the stripe on the night. (He was 2-of-2 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the line in OT.) Eight of his 25 boards were off the offensive glass and the nine-year vet added three assists and a blocked shot.
By the Numbers – 25, 21 … Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson’s rebounding highs for the season. The last time the Wine and Gold featured two players with 20-plus rebound games in the same season was in 1994. (Michael Cage-20, Tyrone Hill-20)
Quotable – Dion Waiters, on the Cavs fighting through adversity for the win …
”We’re still learning how to close games out, but I think this one was important. You’re only down when you’re down and we still had fight in us. One thing about the NBA, it’s never over until there’s triple zeros on the clock. We knew that coming in and we just wanted to be aggressive and we had to come together in a time like that where some people probably doubted us. We knew that if we stuck with it and had patience, that we could pull it off.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers travel to the borough of Brooklyn for a Saturday night affair against the Nets – who upset the Thunder at the Barclays Center on Thursday night. The Wine and Gold come home for a pair – on Sunday evening against the heavyweight Pacers at The Q and a meeting with the Sixers on Tuesday night. Following the Philly matchup, the Cavaliers embark on their January West Coast junket that takes them to Utah, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Portland and Denver.