Cavs Comeback Falls Short
Wrap-Up – With under ten minutes to play in regulation, Sunday’s matchup with the Pacers looked like a mirror image of the New Year’s Eve loss Cleveland suffered in Indiana. But Dion Waiters caught fire midway through the fourth quarter, netting nine points in just over two minutes to cut the Pacers’ 16-point lead to just a single point. But Indiana cranked up the defense in the final two minutes and held the Wine and Gold off for the 82-78 win.Waiters netted 12 of his 14 points in the final period, going 6-for-17 from the floor and adding five assists – including a pair of perfect passes to Anderson Varejao during the Cavaliers’ late comeback. CJ Miles notched 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. Tristan Thompson doubled-up with 13 points and 10 boards and Anderson Varejao led both teams with 13 boards.
The only other Cavalier in double-figures was Matthew Dellavedova, who got the start when Jarrett Jack was sidelined late with lower back spasms. Jack was to start in place of Kyrie Irving, who missed his third straight start with a left knee contusion he suffered the last two times these teams met. Delly, getting his fourth start of the season, finished with 11 points, going 2-for-5 from long-distance and adding a pair of boards, assists and steals.
Turning Point – The Pacers were cruising to what looked like a decisive win over the Wine and Gold, extending their edge to 16 on a Danny Granger three-pointer with 9:39 to play. But Anthony Bennett scored on a layup and Dion Waiters got white hot – bookending a pair of mid-range jumpers with a pair of three-point bombs, the second of which got Cleveland to within one point with 3:35 to play. But the Cavs ran out of gas after the 16-1 run, netting just four more points the rest of the way.
Game Ball – CJ Miles – Dion Waiters’ final flurry got the Cavaliers back in the game in the final quarter, but it was Miles’ effort for all four quarters that kept them in it. On the night, Miles was 8-for-13 from the floor (the rest of the team finished 9-of-66), adding six boards, three assists and a game-high three steals.
By the Numbers – 3,870 … career total rebounds for Anderson Varejao, moving him past LeBron James into No. 4 all-time in franchise history. Andy has grabbed double-digit rebounds in 14 contests so far this season and in each of the last five games. Over the past seven contests, Varejao is averaging 14.0 boards per game.
Quotable – Dion Waiters, on the Cavaliers comeback attempt on Sunday night …
”(We) fought back, never put our heads down when (Indiana) went up by 16 in the fourth. We just fought back. These types of losses hurt because we were right there. We’ve been there all year long though. Once we find a way to close these games out, we’ll be really good.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers welcome the Sixers to The Q on Tuesday night – their last home game until January 20. After the matchup with Philly, the Wine and Gold travel West to Utah (Friday, 1/10), Sacramento (Sunday, 1/12), Los Angeles (Tuesday, 1/14), Portland (Wednesday, 1/15) and Denver (Friday, 1/17).