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About a week-and-a-half ago, the shorthanded Cavaliers were barely treading water.
Almost fully healthy now, and buoyed by a trade that’s already paid major dividends, J.B. Bickerstaff’s re-energized squad won their third straight on Friday night – dropping the high-octane Nets for the second time in three days as they pulled away late for the 125-113 win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
After sinking the new-look Nets in a double-overtime thriller on Wednesday, the Cavaliers didn’t need any histrionics on Friday – opening up a double-digit lead late in the third quarter and coasting home from there.
The Cavaliers were the more active and more physical team throughout the night – taking nearly twice as many free throw attempts and completely dominating Brooklyn on the glass, outrebounding the Nets, 50-29.
Collin Sexton, who led Cleveland with an epic performance on Wednesday night – scoring 20 of his career-high 42 points in the overtime sessions – paced the Cavs again on Friday, notching 25 points on 8-of-19 shooting, going 8-of-9 from the stripe to go with a team-high nine assists in the victory.
Andre Drummond’s double-double streak came to an end on Wednesday, but the two-time All-Star picked it right back up on Friday – tallying 19 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, going 8-of-13 from the floor and adding four assists, two steals and a block.
Drummond’s backup, the newly-acquired Jarrett Allen, followed up a strong showing in his debut with a season-high 19-point performance in 19 minutes off the bench on Friday – going 7-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the stripe to go with six boards.
Larry Nance Jr. also doubled-up for Cleveland, finishing with 15 points and 10 boards, going 7-of-11 rom the field.
Taurean Prince, the other player acquired in last week’s three-team trade, had another strong showing off the bench – chipping in with an efficient 14 points, going 3-of-5 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from deep and 6-for-6 from the line, posting a +14 in 22 minutes of work.
After missing the previous eight games with a shoulder injury, Darius Garland rejoined the lineup – coming off the bench to net 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting. Garland’s draft classmate, Dylan Windler – who hasn’t seen action since the season opener – added six points in 16 minutes, drilling both triples he attempted and grabbing six boards.
Kyrie Irving, who went off for 37 points in Wednesday’s loss, was right back after it on Friday – finishing with a season- and game-high 38 points on 14-for-24 shooting. James Harden, who posted a triple-double on Wednesday, finished with 19 points and a game-high 11 assists in Friday’s loss.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Don't jump with Jarrett Allen! The center rises up in the paint and throws down a huge one-handed jam on his old teammate, Joe Harris.
The Cavaliers led through much of the first half and led by a touchdown just before intermission, but Brooklyn made a late push to end the second quarter down just one.
With 7:47 to play in the third quarter, James Harden’s triple gave the Nets their last lead of the night, 70-69. The Cavaliers re-took the lead on a Collin Sexton floater, igniting an 8-0 run as Cleveland closed the quarter on a 29-14 run.
Overall, the Cavaliers netted 37 points in that defining third quarter. The Nets didn’t get back to within single-figures the rest of the night.
By the Numbers - 15 … straight games, dating back to last season, that Collin Sexton has scored at least 20 points – averaging 27.9ppg on 54 percent shooting from the floor, including 44 percent from long-range.
Before his 1-of-5 performance from deep on Friday, Sexton was the only player in the NBA averaging at least 25.0 points while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
"Our identity has been established. What’s going to get us there is the experience of doing it night after night after night. We will continue this; this will be a work in progress all year long until we become what we believe we can become. But you have to do it every single game, and that’s the test for us. You watch the way the guys are playing – how hard they’re competing on the defensive end, how unselfish they’re playing on the offensive end of the floor. So I think our identity is clear – and they’ve bought into that."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
After sweeping the Nets to wrap up the week, the Wine & Gold play a back-to-back against the NBA’s two most iconic franchises – traveling to Beantown for a Sunday night showdown with Tristan Thompson and the Celtics before returning to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to face the World Champion Lakers on Monday.
The Cavaliers welcome the Pistons to town on Wednesday night before making a pair of road stops to end the month of January – traveling to the Knicks next Friday before taking on the Wolves in Minnesota the following Sunday.