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The J.B. Bickerstaff Era started in style as the Wine & Gold began the season’s second half the way they ended the first- with a win. Cleveland has won back-to-back games for the first time since early January – a gritty 113-108 victory on Friday night at Capital One Arena.
One game after John Beilein stepped down as head coach, Bickerstaff saw his squad mount an impressive fourth-quarter comeback, pulling past the Wizards and holding off any Washington rally, powered by Tristan Thompson’s ferocious late work on the defensive end and on the boards.
The Cavaliers trailed for most of the night and were down as many as 16 in the second quarter. But the Wine & Gold found their second wind in the final period – outscoring the Wizards, 32-21, over the final 12 minutes to win in Washington for the 12th time in their last 16 visits.
Collin Sexton notched 14 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, finishing 5-of-7 from the floor in the period and 8-of-17 overall, going 7-of-10 from the stripe and adding two boards and a pair of assists.
Cedi Osman recorded a double-double for the second time this season, tallying 15 of his 16 points in the first half, canning his first five shots and adding 10 boards in the win.
Darius Garland scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, finishing 6-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-4 from long-range – his 33rd game of at least two three-pointers, tops in his rookie class.
Larry Nance Jr. tallied double-figures for the 11th time in his last 12 games, coming off the bench to notch 13 points, six boards and a pair of assists. Dante Exum also netted double-figures off the bench, adding 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting in 24 clutch minutes of work.
But it was Tristan Thompson who did the necessary blue collar work – all night, but especially in the pivotal fourth quarter – netting four points, four assists, two huge blocked shots and six rebounds – including a pair of huge offense boards in the final period. Overall, Thompson finished with 10 points, 11 boards and four helpers for his 24th double-double.
In terms of double-doubles, nobody does it better than Andre Drummond – who registered his third straight as a Cavalier, improving his personal record in the Wine and Gold to 2-1.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 26 points, but he finished 9-of-26 from the floor, including just 1-of-10 from beyond the arc with six turnovers.
The Cavs first points of the game came in style, as Cedi Osman threw a lob for Andre Drummond, who dunked it home with the left hand.
The Wizards were in control for most of the night, extending their lead to 16 in the second quarter and leading throughout the third, taking a six-point edge into the final period.
After taking an eight-point lead on Troy Brown’s triple, the Cavs tied the game behind threes from Larry Nance Jr. and Darius Garland and an alley-oop dunk from Tristan Thompson. Two possessions later, Cleveland took its first lead on Darius Garland’s three-pointer.
From there, Garland and Collin Sexton led the way on the offensive end and Tristan Thompson did the same on the defensive side to help the Cavs build an eight-point lead with just over four minutes to play.
The Cavaliers didn’t trail the rest of the way.
22.7, .474, .452 … Collin Sexton’s scoring average – along with his shooting percentage from the floor and long-distance – since the calendar turned to 2020, scoring at least 23 points in 14 of those 22 games.
Sexton has handed out at least four assists in 11 of those contests and was perfect from the stripe in 14 of them.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff, on Tristan Thompson …
”It's his character. It's who he is. The game and his team and this organization mean more to him than anything, so he's willing to sacrifice. He goes out, he competes, he changes the game with his energy [and] his effort, his versatility on the defensive end switching on smalls and block shots at the rim. And he feeds everybody else and they feed off of his energy and the young guys see it shows them the way. That's proper leadership.”
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega's Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
The Cavaliers play the second half of the back-to-back in their NBA house of horrors, traveling to Miami on Saturday night – a venue where they haven’t tasted victory since January 2010.
Cleveland then returns home for two straight, welcoming Jimmy Butler and the Heat on Monday night followed by a visit from Joel Embiid and the Sixers on Wednesday.