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Wrap-Up – Coming off the second-half of a back-to-back on the other end of a three-game road trip, it took the Cavaliers the first three quarters to find the form that won them the previous seven contests. By the fourth quarter, with a sold-out crowd at full-throat, the Wine and Gold clicked on both ends of the floor – pulling even, then past the Raptors for the 105-101 win on Tuesday at The Q.
LeBron James kept the Cavaliers alive through those first three quarters, and he finished with a game-high 35 points on 12-for-21 shooting. Three of those 35 came with the game tied at 99-apiece 48 seconds to play, as James splashed home a trey from the top of the arc to give Cleveland a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. No. 23 was just as aggressive on the other end, shutting down the East’s reigning Player of the Week – Kyle Lowery – in the final period, holding him to two points on 1-for-8 shooting.
For the third straight game, Cleveland’s second unit came up big – and for the second straight night, Dion Waiters was the man leading the way. Waiters came off the bench to notch 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, going 3-of-5 from long-distance.
Tristan Thompson was 3-of-5 from the floor overall, but his eight rebounds – six of which he snagged in the fourth quarter – were huge in assuring the Cavs’ eighth straight victory. And Matthew Dellavedova, in his second game back after a left knee injury sidelined him since the third game of the season, was tremendous on both ends of the floor. He finished with six points – drilling a pair of bombs in four attempts – and five assists, but Delly’s impact can’t always be measured in statistics.
Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures. Irving doubled-up with 13 points and a team-high 10 assists and Love added 17 points and nine boards.
Turning Point – At one point during Tuesday’s matchup – Cleveland’s third with Toronto already this season – the Cavs trailed Toronto by as much as two touchdowns. But the Wine and Gold’s comeback was a slow burn, one that began early in the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Wine and Gold turned up their defensive intensity, stifling the highest-scoring squad in the East. No Raptors starter tallied more than two points in the period and the entire team didn’t attempt a single free throw. Toronto shot just 33 percent from the floor and 13 total points. For the Cavaliers, each of Tristan Thompson’s six boards was crucial – including three off the offensive glass in the final five minutes. Offensively, LeBron led the way with 10 points – converting on all five free throws down the stretch.
By the Numbers – 802 … career three-pointers that LeBron James now has – tying him with the great Mark Price for the most in Cavaliers franchise history.
Quotable – Kyrie Irving, on backcourt mate Matthew Dellavedova, a man he’s referred to in the past as his “Australian brother” …
”He’s incredible. He’s awesome. I don’t know what else to say. We’ve developed such a great relationship. It’s just having my brother back out there and knowing that what you’re going to get from him every night is 150%. He’s an incredible professional, an incredible teammate to have. I know everybody in this locker room appreciates him.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers will take their eight-game win streak back on the road – taking on a pair of tough Western Conference foes in back-to-back fashion. On Thursday, it’s a nationally-televised matchup with the reigning MVP, Kevin Durant, and the resurgent Thunder in OKC. On Friday, they travel to the Big Easy to close out the season series with the Pelicans, who Cleveland topped, 118-111, one month earlier at The Q. The Wine and Gold return to The Q the following week – welcoming the Hornets to town on Monday night, the first of five straight home contests before traveling to Miami for a Christmas Day matchup.