Cavaliers win streak ends at nine with 123-121 loss to Sixers 
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Monday night the Cleveland Cavaliers (35-16, 18-8 home) took a nine game winning streak into Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse when they welcomed the Philadelphia 76ers (31-21, 14-11 road) to town.

The meeting was the second of the season between the two clubs. The Cavs won the first meeting 122-119 in overtime on November 21st. The Sixers held a slight edge 116-108 over the Cavs in the all-time series heading into Monday. The Cavs however held the all-time series in Cleveland (Cleveland Arena, Richfield Coliseum, RMFH) with Philadelphia 62-49. When the clock expired on Monday night the winning streak was over as the Sixers outlasted the Cavs in an entertaining contest 123-121, sending the sellout crowd home disappointed.

Early in the game things were a bit sloppy with five combined turnovers, three by the Sixers in the first 3:13. After Donovan Mitchell was fouled, he hit two free throws to give the Cavs an 8-6 lead. Things remained close with Cavs extending their lead to four points a couple of different times, but with 6:44 left on the clock and the Cavs leading 14-10 Jarrett Allen fouled Paul Reed on a layup, Reed made the layup and the fee throw to pull the Sixers within one point at 14-13. With 5:51 left in the first quarter Max Strus hit his first three pointer of the contest and gave the Cavs a 19-15 lead. After Philadelphia cut the Cavs lead to 22-20, Caris LeVert hit Allen in the paint with 4:09 left extending the Cavs lead to 24-20. The Sixers cut the lead to 26-25 with 2;45 left when Cameron Payne hit a three. The Sixers then tied the game at 28-28 one possession later a three pointer by the newly acquired Buddy Heild with 1:36 left Philly took a 31-28 lead on another three by Hield and then extended the lead to 33-28 with a dunk by Mo Bamba with 111-11 left. The Cavs scored the next five points to tie the game with :33 left when Garland drove the lane to score and tie the game 33-33. LeVert fouled Ricky Council IV with :22 left. Council IV hit one of two free throws and the Sixers led 34-33 at the end of the first quarter. Hield led all scorers with 10 points, Mitchell led the Cavs with nine first quarter points. The Cavs edged the Sixers on the boards 9-7.

Philly started the second quarter by hitting a three and taking a 37-33 lead just 12 seconds into the quarter. They extended the lead to 43-33 when Tyrese Maxey hit a three and then after the Cavs did not score on their next possessions Maxey hit a jumper in the paint, he was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw with 10:09 left in the first half. The Cavs did not waiver scoring, cutting the lead to 44-40 with 8:57 left on a jumper at the top of the key by Garland. Two possessions later the Cavs cut the lead to 46-43 on a three by Garland with 7:56 left on the clock. With 7:10 left and Philly up 48-43 a foul was called on LeVert Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff challenged the call, the challenge was unsuccessful, and Payne went to the line to shoot two free throws. Payne hit both freebies to extend the 76ers lead to 50-43. The Cavs continued to respond on the next trip down the floor when Mitchell hit a fadeaway three to cut the Philly lead to 50-46 with 6:57 left in the second quarter. With 4:16 left in the first half the 76ers built their lead back up to nine points at 57-48 when KJ Martin hit a jumper. The Cavs trimmed the lead to 59-54 with 2:51 left in the half when Mitchell hit his third three of the half and had 15 points. One of the issues to that point was turnovers. The Cavs had turned the ball over six times, resulting in nine 76ers points. After Martin dunked for the Sixers giving them a 61-54 lead with 2:07 left Martin was accessed a technical, Mitchell hit the free throw and then Allen hit a jumper in the paint to pull the Cavs to within four at 61-57. The Sixers were not letting up as they extended the lead back to seven with 1:05 left on the clock. Evan Mobley was fouled with :40 left and hit one to cut the lead to 66-60. After a failed possession by the Sixers, Mobley dunked at the other end to trim the Philly lead to 66-62 which remained the score at the break. Mitchell led all scorers with 16 first half points. Mobley and Allen each had 12. Hield scored 13 for Philly and Maxey had 12. Mitchell and Hield were trading threes as each had three in the first 24 minutes. The Cavs turned the ball over seven times in the first half resulting in 11 points for the 76ers. Meanwhile Philadelphia did a better job taking care of the ball turning it over only four times resulting in six Cavs points. The Cavs had the slightest edge in rebounds leading 21-20 heading into the halftime break.

The 76ers came out and scored the first four points of the second half to take a 70-62 lead just 1:26 into the third quarter. Philly built their lead once again to nine points at 74-65 with 9:14 left on the clock and Bickerstaff had seen enough as he called a timeout to gather his troop and try to get them back on track. Garland cut the Philly lead to six with 8:14 left and then after a turnover by the Sixers the lead was cut to 76-72 when Garland took the ball all the way to the other end completing the fast break points. After Martin was called for an offensive foul Max Strus hit a three on the next possession to cut the Philly lead to one point with 7:21 left. Then after a steal by Mobley, Struss ran the floor and gave the Cavs a 77-76 lead with 7:00 left in the third quarter. Sixers coach Nick Nurse had witnessed enough and called for a timeout. Immediately after the timeout Mobley blocked Bamba’s shot in the paint and on the other end Allen was fouled. He converted one of two to give the Cavs a 78-76 lead with 6:39 left. The Sixers scored the next four points to take an 80-78 lead on a layup by Hield with 5:57 left in the third. It was clear that it was going to be a struggle if the Cavs were going to notch their tenth straight win. LeVert tied the game 1t 80-80 with a jumper in the paint with 4:35 left. The Cavs took the lead with 3:48 left after Mitchell was fouled by Hield, his fourth, and Mitchell hit one of two free throws giving the Cavs an 81-80 lead. Philly got the lead right back when Mitchell fouled Payne, it was Mitchell’s fourth and Payne hit both free throws. More free throws gave the Cavs a one point lead when Mitchell hit two of three after being fouled by Kelly Obre with 3:20 left in the third. The game continued to go back and forth for the next several minutes until the Sixers built a four point lead after George Niang fouled Payne. Niang objected to the foul call and was accessed a technical foul. Payne hit the technical and the two free throws to give Philly an 89-85 lead with 1:59 left in the third period. The Cavs did cut the lead to 89-88 on a three by LeVert at the other end with 1:38 left. It looked as though the Cavs might tie the game as LeVert was initially fouled by Maxey. It was challenged by the Sixers, and they prevailed. The Sixers up 91-90 had a chance to extend the lead to three points when Maxey drove the lane but was denied when Niang blocked the shot and at the other end Allen slammed the ball home on the fast break giving the Cavs a 92-91 lead at the end of the third quarter. The big difference in the third quarter for the Cavs was they only turned the ball over one time resulting in no Philly points. While the Sixers turned the ball over three times resulting in nine Cleveland points. Mitchell led everyone with 24 points through three. Maxey led the Sixers with 17 points. The Cavs continued to hold a slight edge on the boards 34-32.

Early in the fourth quarter the Cavs had a 94-91 lead and had a chance to extend it to five points when LeVert drove the lane, but was called for an offensive foul, it looked like a questionable call and Bickerstaff was beside himself in disbelief. After the Sixers cut the lead to one point, Garland hit Mobley at the other end giving the Cavs a 96-93 lead with10:12 remaining in regulation. Philadelphia tied the game 98-98 with 8:49 left after Mobley picked up his second personal. Council IV went to the line after hitting the layup and hit the foul shot. The Cavs regained the lead with 8:02 left when Mitchell was fouled by Maxey on a three point attempt, he hit 2 of 3 giving the Cavs a 100-98 lead. Philly tied the game up 100-100 with 7:52 left when Oubre, Jr. was fouled by LeVert and hit both free throws. LeVert responded at the other end hitting a layup putting the Cavs on top temporarily 102-100 with 7:33 left on the clock. With 6:15 left the Sixers retook the lead 104-102 when Bamba dunked over Allen. They extended their lead to 106-102 with 5;40 left when Hield drove the lane and dropped in a layup. Bickerstaff called a timeout. Things continued to go downhill for the Cavs as after the timeout Hield hit a three to give the Sixers a 109-104 lead. The Cavs then turned the ball over and in frustration Strus threw the ball, the Cavs were accessed a delay of game warning, Struss objected and was hit with a technical foul. Hield hit the technical free throw and then Hield hit a three on the following possession and gave the Sixers a 113-104 lead with just 4:12 left on the clock. With 3:59 left Garland cut the lead to 113-106 and the 76ers took a timeout. The Cavs defense that had been so good during the nine-game win streak and really since December 16th could not stop the 76ers as the extended the lead to 115-106 with just 3:40 left on the game clock. Until the 2:55 mark when they forced Philadelphia to turn the ball over, the only problem was the Cavs turned it right back over and the 76ers took advantage and then the Cavs failed on their next possession giving the ball back to the Sixers. The Cavs cut the lead to seven with 1:31 left. Oubre who seems to enjoy showboating or in some circles it’s called acting foolish then hit a three to give the 76ers a 120-110 lead with1:25 left on the clock and made a gesture toward the Cavs bench. The Cavs scored the scored the next six points capped off by a jumper by Mitchell and he was fouled. He hit the free throw, and the Sixers lead was 120-116 with :53 remaining in regulation. The Cavs defense then forced a 24 second violation and got the ball back with :29.4 left. Then with :14.0 left on the clock after missing two three point attempts (Mitchell, Garland) in a row, Mitchell got a third chance and hit the three cut the Sixers lead to 120-119. The Cavs then fouled Council IV at the other end. He hit both to give the sixers a 122-119 lead with :10.1 left and the Cavs took a timeout to talk strategy. The Sixers quickly fouled Mitchell after the Strus inbound. He went to the foul line with :09.0 left and hit both cutting the lead to 122-121. With :06.9 left Okoro fouled Maxey. Maxey went to the line and hit one of two and the sellout crowd went insane as the Sixers lead was only 123-121. The Cavs took a timeout. But the Cavs could not score in the final possession and the nine-game winning streak was over.

Hield and Oubre, Jr. led the Sixers with 24 points each. Maxey contributed 22. Mitchell paced the Cavs in the losing effort with 36 points. Allen and Garland both had 21. Allen also had a double double with 21 and 10 boards.

The Cavs are in action next on Wednesday when they host the Chicago Bulls (25-28, 10-16, road) at 7:30 pm. 
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​POSTED 02/12/2024 22:12
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Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.                                       Photo by Tommy Shirer