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Wrap-Up -- The young Cavaliers simply aren’t good enough to play three quarters of solid basketball to get a win.
That was the case on Friday night – with the Wine & Gold taking the lead at half and making a furious fourth-quarter run that nearly got them back in the ballgame late. But the third quarter spelled doom for Cleveland at The Q in this one – with Miami opening up an edge that was too much to overcome, hanging on to hand the Cavs the, 100-94, decision and their sixth straight loss.
All five Cavalier starters notched double-figures and Cedi Osman eclipsed his career-high scoring effort one game after setting it.
But Miami’s bench dominated the Cavaliers second unit, and the combination of Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside was again too much for Cleveland, which has now dropped all three meetings against the Heat this season.
The Wine & Gold posted a 30-point second quarter and took a five-point edge into the halftime. But Miami came out swinging in the second half – outscoring the Cavs, 32-17, in the third period and fighting off a late rally that saw Larry Drew’s squad cut an 18-point lead to just five in the closing seconds.
One game after tallying a career-high, netting 25 points in Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics, Cedi Osman was even better against the Heat – leading both teams with 29 points, going 11-for-20 from the floor, including 3-of-8 from deep and 4-of-5 from the stripe, adding four boards, four assists and a pair of steals.
Cleveland’s starting backcourt of Alec Bucks and Collin Sexton notched 13 points apiece – with Burks going 5-of-19 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from long-range, adding seven boards, three assists and a steal. Sexton went 4-of-13 from the field, with a 3-of-6 mark from deep, adding two boards and a pair of assists.
Ante Zizic continued his impressive starting run, registering double digits for the eighth time in his last nine starts – finishing with 11 points and team-best nine boards, going 4-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the stripe.
Five Cavs players score in double digits in tight game at The Q.
The Cavaliers bench had been dominating their opponents for most of the season, but they’ve met their match over the past two games. After being outdone, 60-30, on Wednesday night in Beantown, Miami’s tenacious second unit outscored them, 35-18, on Friday.
For the Heat, Winslow led the squad with 27 points while Whiteside led both teams with 13 boards. Derrick Jones Jr. doubled-up with 14 points and 10 boards in 23 productive minutes off Eric Spoelstra’s bench.
Turning Point -- It’s not quite accurate to say the third quarter was Cleveland’s undoing on Friday. It was actually just the second half of the third quarter.
Miami erased Cleveland’s five-point halftime lead in short order, but the squads still went back and forth for the next few minutes – and the Heat led by just a deuce with 5:21 to play in the period.
The Cavs got to within three with 3:47 to play in the quarter on Cedi Osman’s triple, but they wouldn’t score again in the period – with the Heat closing out on a 7-0 run, taking a double-digit lead into the fourth and getting themselves just enough breathing room to weather Cleveland’s late rally.
By the Numbers – 43 … games that Collin Sexton has now tallied double figures this year, tying him for the lead among all rookies. Friday night was his 14th straight such performance, his second-longest streak of the season.
Quotable – Cedi Osman, on his improved play over the last two games …
"I was just trying to be aggressive, like I did the last game. I was trying to see what is the best shot for me. When I was open, I was taking threes. When I was not, I was trying to get to the rim, and if I was not open I would just pass it to my teammates. Because I was playing as the four, I was trying to set a pick-and-roll or just slip and give [my teammates] a good position and roll to the basket. So that’s actually my mindset right now – just to be aggressive on both ends."
Up Next -- The Wine & Gold have just two more games remaining in January – a Sunday afternoon matinee in the Windy City, wrapping up their season series with the Bulls, and a visit from Bradley Beal and the Wizards on Tuesday night. The Cavs then get a well-earned three-day break before Luka Doncic and the Mavericks roll into The Q next Saturday night. The Celtics come to town for the final time this year the following Tuesday before Cleveland departs for its final trip before the All-Star Break – a weekend back-to-back in Washington and Indiana.