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If the Cavaliers hope to snap their prolonged skid on South Beach – which now stretches over a decade – they’ll have to wait until next year to do it.
The Wine & Gold were never out of it on Saturday night, and put together a solid defensive effort after intermission, but never fully mounted a serious threat either – dropping the 115-101 decision at AmericanAirlines Arena, their 20th straight in Miami, fifth straight overall.
After allowing 67 points before half, the Cavs clamped down in the third quarter – reversing a recent trend – and held Miami to just 17 points in the period.
But despite slicing the Heat’s double-digit lead to just five late in the third, the Eastern Conference Champs staved off every Cleveland run from there and pulled away down the stretch for their fourth straight win.
The Cavaliers got some good individual performances on Saturday night, beginning with Collin Sexton, who led both teams with 26 points, hitting his first five shots and finishing 11-for-17 from the floor, adding three boards, three assists and three steals.
Taurean Prince, in just his third game back from a shoulder injury, followed up with a season-high 19 points off the bench, going 7-of-13 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from deep and 4-of-4 from the stripe, adding six boards and three assists.
Isaac Okoro also finished with a career-high, netting 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, hitting both three-pointers he attempted and going 5-of-7 from the line.
Darius Garland chipped in with 12 points, going 4-of-8 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from long-range, leading Cleveland with eight assists and a pair of steals before being ejected late in the ballgame after protesting a call.
In just his second game back from the calf injury that’s bothered him on and off all season long, Kevin Love doubled-up with 10 points and a team-high 10 boards, going 3-of-9 from the floor in 23 minutes of work.
The Heat featured seven players in double-figures, led by Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson’s 18 point apiece. Adebayo led both teams with 11 boards; Jimmy Butler paced both squads with 11 assists.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
The ball movement was on full display this possession, as all five Cavs' touched the ball and the move ended with a Kevin Love three in the corner.
The Cavs scored the first five points of the game, but found themselves down double-figures before the end of the first quarter and were down a baker’s dozen at the break.
But the Cavs turned it up defensively in the third quarter and mounted a 7-0 run to get to within five – 75-70 – but Miami answered with a 9-0 run of its down.
In the fourth quarter, the Cavs cut it to single digits just once earlier in the period before the Heat pulled away late.
By the Numbers - 25.1 … points that Collin Sexton is averaging over the past nine games, topping the 20-point mark in eight of them and going for 36 in a win over Toronto.
So far this season, Sexton’s posted 27 games of 20-or-more, four games of 30-plus and a 42-point game in an overtime win over Brooklyn.
”My teammates help me out, especially the veterans – telling me how to keep my body right, how to eat right, icing after games – just keep my mind locked in, my body straight continue to watch film.”
Enjoy the best broadcast call of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Mike Snyder.
The Cavaliers continue their rough road stretch, having now played five of their last six away from home – with two more remaining before they return. The first of those is a Monday night matchup with the Spurs in San Antonio, followed by a Thursday night contest in Oklahoma City.
The Cavs return home for a weekend back-to-back, facing off against the Raptors on Saturday night followed by a visit from Zion Williamson and the Pelicans on Sunday.