Wine and Gold Fall in Brooklyn
Wrap-Up – As they had over the past week-and-a-half, the Wine and Gold got off to a slow start and continued to chip away all night. But on Friday night, they couldn’t find the fourth-quarter magic that propelled them to three straight wins and fell to a hot Nets team, 108-97, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Four Cavaliers notched double-figures, led by Luol Deng and Dion Waiters – who tallied 20 points apiece. Deng did his work early, netting nine points in the opening period, while Waiters scored half of his points in the third quarter. Spencer Hawes added 16 points, five boards and Cleveland’s only two blocked shots. Tristan Thompson finished with 14 points on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting, adding five rebounds and a steal. Anderson Varejao came off the bench to lead both squads with 13 boards.
The Nets featured six players in double-figures, led by Paul Pierce – who scored all of his game-high 22 points before halftime. Brooklyn shot 55 percent from the floor to the Cavaliers’ 43 percent and canned 14 treys. Cleveland outdid the Nets on second-chance scoring (14-4), in the paint (38-32) and on the fast break (13-4) – but it wasn’t enough to prevent Brooklyn from winning its 12th straight home contest.
Turning Point – Brooklyn scored the first nine points of the game and ran out to an 11-point advantage midway through the first period. But the Cavaliers bounced right back, closing the quarter on a 15-4 run to tie the game at 29-apiece and take back momentum. The Wine and Gold couldn’t build on it, however, as the Nets proceeded to score the first 12 points of the second quarter to take a double-digit advantage they’d hold through most of the night. Cleveland cut Brooklyn’s lead to just five near the end of the third period, but the Nets opened the fourth on an 8-1 run to stall the rally.
Game Ball – Luol Deng – Deng has been very good since returning to the lineup after an ankle injury, and he did a little bit of everything on Friday night – keeping the Cavs competitive through a tough first quarter and facilitating the offense for the rest of the night. He tied Jarrett Jack with a game-high seven assists, adding six boards and a steal. The steady veteran went 7-for-15 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the stripe.
By the Numbers – 5, 6, 5 … Anderson Varejao’s rank among Eastern Conference leaders in rebounds per game (10.0), offensive rebounds per game (3.1) and defensive rebounds per game (6.9).
Quotable – Coach Mike Brown, on Cleveland’s defense against Brooklyn …
”To play the way we did – and Brooklyn had something to do with it – it’s tough to swallow. We didn’t do a good job of containing the basketball tonight. I thought, no matter who was out on the floor defensively, guys were able to get into the paint and collapse our defense and make plays.”
Up Next – The Wine and Gold close out the month of March with a Central Division matinee against the heavyweight Pacers on Sunday. They hit the road afterward – for a Wednesday night matchup with the Magic in Orlando, followed by what could be a big game in the playoff picture next Friday night in Atlanta. On Saturday, Cleveland welcomes Big Al Jefferson and the Bobcats to The Q before a rare three-day break. They return to action next Wednesday, with Detroit’s final visit to Quicken Loans Arena.