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Wrap-Up -- Statistics don’t always tell the story, but when one team takes 22 more free throws and grabs 19 more rebounds than the other, it’s not hard to figure the final result.
The Cavaliers played one of their most complete games of the young season, but it still wasn’t enough against the high-octane Rockets – who were simply too much on Thursday night, handing Cleveland the 117-113 loss at the Toyota Center.
Houston led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter before a two-man barrage by LeBron James and Jeff Green gave Cleveland a two-point lead heading into intermission.
The Rockets took the lead back after half and again ran their edge to 13 early in the fourth period before Green’s triple got the Cavs back to within one, 112-111. But a pair of buckets by Clint Capela in the final minute sealed the deal late.
The Cavaliers got big efforts from both James and Green, but James Harden was even better – finishing with 35 points, 13 assists, 11 boards and five steals – all game-highs. The Beard was 8-for-21 from the floor, including 6-of-14 from long-range, and 13-of-14 from the stripe.
Overall, the Rockets attempted 36 free throws to just 14 for the Cavaliers – an incongruous number considering LeBron had 24 field goal attempts and made just four trips to the line and Houston attempted 46 three-pointers on the night.
LeBron posted his second straight 30-point game – leading Cleveland with 33 points on 15-for-24 shooting, adding a team-high seven assists, four boards, a steal and blocked shot. James was also responsible for nine of the Cavaliers’ 19 turnovers.
Jeff Green did the majority of his damage in the second quarter when he netted 20 of his 27 points. In the period, the 10th-year forward was 8-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the line. Overall, Green was 11-of-15 from the field, adding five boards, a pair of assists and a game-high three steals.
Kevin Love chipped in with 17 points, going 5-of-12 from the floor, 3-of-6 from long-range, adding a team-best six boards before fouling out late in the fourth.
Overall, the Cavaliers were decimated on the boards in Thursday’s loss – a 45-28 disparity exacerbated on the offensive glass, where the Rockets outdid the Wine & Gold, 17-4.
J.R. Smith notched his second straight game in double-figures, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including a 3-of-8 mark from beyond the arc. His backcourt mate on Thursday – Iman Shumpert, filling in for Derrick Rose, still suffering ill-effects of a tender left ankle – did an admirable job running the team, finishing with seven points, five assists and a steal.
LBJ and Jeff Green combine for 60 points despite the loss.
Houston’s Clint Capela doubled-up with 19 points and 13 boards, but it was his late work that flummoxed Cleveland late – piling up 11 of those points and seven rebounds (five off the offensive glass) in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers shot the ball well in the loss – going 56 percent from the floor, including a 12-of-27 mark from deep. The Rockets shot 47 percent from the floor and committed 22 turnovers that led to 38 Cavalier points, but they made up for the disparity at the free throw line and on the boards.
Turning Point -- The Rockets came into the affair having won three straight and averaging 125.0 points per in those wins. So when the Wine & Gold went down 18 with just under 11 minutes to play in the second quarter, it looked like a long night.
But Jeff Green went into attack mode at that point – scoring 15 of Cleveland’s next 17 points to get the Cavaliers back into striking distance. LeBron picked things up from there, scoring eight straight points to draw even closer.
A pair of free throws from Green gave Cleveland its first lead and a baseline dunk by LeBron on a beautiful pass from Dwyane Wade gave the Cavs a four-point lead just before half – essentially turning a blowout into a 24-minute contest.
By the Numbers – 48 … straight games that the Cavaliers had won when shooting better than 55 percent from the floor – a streak that ended with Thursday night’s loss in Houston.
Quotable – LeBron James, on Jeff Green and the second unit on Thursday night …
”A lot of athleticism, a lot of activity and a lot of communication allowed us to get back into the game. It allowed us to play fast as well. Jeff Green was phenomenal tonight on both ends of the floor. Not only guarding (James) Harden, but being in attack mode on the offensive end, making his shots and being aggressive.”
Up Next -- Following Thursday’s defeat at the Toyota Center, the Wine & Gold complete their Texas two-step on Saturday night, taking on the struggling Mavericks in Dallas. The trip shifts to the Big Apple on Monday night when the Cavs seek a measure of revenge against Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks. On Wednesday, the Cavs complete their four-gamer, traveling to Charlotte for their first matchup with the Hornets this season. The Cavaliers finally return home next Friday night for a nationally-televised battle with the Clippers.