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Wrap-Up – The Cavaliers arrived in Philadelphia already down two starters – LeBron James, resting a sore left knee and lower back, and Kyrie Irving, who left Sunday’s affair with a sore lower back and didn’t travel with the team. And just minutes before tip-off, they learned they’d be without three more members of the squad, most notably Dion Waiters – who, along with Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk, was dealt to the OKC Thunder in a three-team deal that brings Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith from the Knicks to Cleveland.
Aside from the off-court drama, the Cavaliers still had a game to play. And for three quarters, it looked like they would withstand the scrappy Sixers and keep them winless at home this season. But Philly rallied late and the Wine and Gold squandered a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to drop their second straight contest – falling, 95-92, on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Cavaliers were in control for most of the night , but Tony Wroten’s floater with 1:59 to play capped a 12-2 run and tied the game at 88-apiece. Two possessions later, Wroten split a pair of free throws and the Cavs found themselves clinging to a one-point edge with 1:05 to play. After a miss by Michael Carter-Williams, Cleveland’s Matthew Dellavedova was fouled. But he missed both free throws, opening the gate for Wroten, who wound left around the Cavaliers’ defense and scored on a layup to give Philly the one-point lead, 93-92. Dellavedova missed a runner on Cleveland’s final possession and Robert Covington converted a pair of free throws on the other end to ice the win.
With two-thirds of Cleveland’s All-Star trio temporarily on the shelf, Kevin Love had another fantastic outing – leading both squads with 28 points and 19 boards, going 8-of-18 from the floor and 11-of-13 from the stripe.
Tristan Thompson was solid again in his fifth straight start – adding 18 points, nine boards and a pair of steals. Rookie Joe Harris – who was inserted into the starting lineup just before tip-off – notched 16 points in 31 minutes of action, going 6-for-12 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.
With only nine players dressed for action on Monday, the Cavs got solid contribution off their bench. James Jones finished with nine points, canning three three-pointers. And A.J. Price and Shawn Marion pitched in with six points apiece.
Turning Point – By the midway point of the third quarter, the Wine and Gold were cruising along with a 17-point lead against the four-win Sixers. But the deep freeze that’s been sweeping the Northeast blew into the Wells Fargo Center – at least the Cavaliers’ end of it – and Cleveland didn’t hit a single shot for the remainder of the period. The Cavs didn’t sink another field goal until A.J. Price canned a short floater with 11:25 remaining in the ballgame. In the meantime, the Sixers managed to shoot 58 percent from the floor in the second half – including 68 percent in the fourth quarter.
By the Numbers – 28.3, 11.3 … Kevin Love’s scoring and rebounding numbers over his past three games. During that stretch, the three-time All-Star is shooting .519 from the floor, including .412 from three-point range, and .758 from the stripe.
Quotable – Kevin Love, on Monday night’s difficult loss to the Sixers with only nine men dressed …
”It was tough, but we still felt like we should have won the game. We had it under control, we just didn't bury them. We felt like as a team we should have beat them.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers return home to The Q for one more game before departing on their annual January West Coast junket. That one more home contest won’t be easy, as the Cavs welcome James Harden and the Rockets to town for a nationally-televised affair on Wednesday night. Afterwards, the Cavaliers head West for five games – beginning on Friday night in Golden State, then to Sacramento for a Sunday night affair, back to Phoenix for a Tuesday night matchup with the Suns and finally a Tinseltown back-to-back – against the Lakers on Thursday night and the Clippers on Friday.