Cavaliers scorched by Heat 129-96  
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cavs returned to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse tonight after a short one game trip to Philadelphia on Tuesday in which the Cavs defeated the 76ers 122-119 in overtime. Wednesday the Cavs hosted the Miami Heat. Fans who were anxious to see Kevin Love return to RMFH for the first time since being released by the Cavs on February 18th will have to wait until at least March 20th when the Heat visit RMFH again because Love was out due to personal reasons tonight.

Last season the Cavaliers were 2-2 against the Heat as they split both games in Cleveland and South Beach. The Heat leads the all-time series 76-50. The Cavs however do lead the all-time series at the Richfield Coliseum and RMFH 35-27. Tonight, the Heat were scorching, and the Cavs looked tired and out of sync as the Heat ran away early enroute to a 129-96 win.

Things did not start out well for the Cavs as the Heat jumped out to an 11-2 lead with 9:31 left in the first quarter. Things continued to go south for the Cavs over the next 2:27 as the Heat took 19-7 lead. The Cavs then scored the next nine points finished off by a layup by Evan Mobley with 5:17 left in the quarter to close the gap to 19-16. The Heat then had their own run and took a 29-20 lead with 3:13 left in the quarter on a fast break dunk by Orlando Robinson. The Cavs then closed the gap to 31-26 when Caris LeVert hit a fadeaway jumper with 1:15 left. Although when the first quarter clock hit all zeros the Heat lead had grown to 37-26. The Heat’s Kyle Lowry led all scorers with 15 and LeVert led the Cavs with nine first quarter points. The Cavs outrebounded the Heat 11-8 but turned the ball over six times and the Heat turned those into 11 points.  

The Cavs showed signs of life in the first 4:15 of the second period playing Miami even with the score at 47-36 with 7;45 left on a fast break layup by Darius Garland. Every time the Cavs made a dent in the Heat lead Miami responded and with 3:14 left the Heat had a 62-46 lead. With 2:22 left in the second quarter Craig Porter, Jr. put together a nice half with 10 points and two assists, but it wasn’t enough as there were not many contributions from anyone else, LeVert had no points to that point in the second after a team leading nine in the first quarter. It was apparent as the quarter wound down the Cavs did not have their legs after playing the overtime game Tuesday night in Philly as they allowed 69 first half point to trail 69-55 at halftime. Lowry led all scorers at halftime with 17. Mobley was pacing the Cavs with 13 and Porter, Jr. had 10. The Cavs outrebounded the Heat 18-15 in the first half, and they shot better than the Heat 57% to 53%, but the problem for the Cavs was taking care of the ball as they turned it over 12 times resulting in 21 Miami points. Meanwhile the Heat only committed four turnovers in the first 24 minutes.

Early in the second half Porter, Jr. blocked a Heat shot and then on a fast break pass from Mobley he deposited a layup on the other end cutting the Miami lead to 71-57 with 11:09 left in the third quarter. The game flow continued to favor the Heat with 7:50 left they extended their lead to 80-59 when Duncan Robinson drained a three from the top of the arc. With three minutes left in the third quarter it appeared that Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff threw in the towel as he made mass substitutions during a challenge timeout. Then with 1:07 left in the quarter LeVert was accessed a double technical foul resulting in his ejection from the contest. With the third quarter coming to an end and :00.2 left on the clock and the Heat leading 101-79 after a personal foul was called on Cavs Tristan Thompson, Bickerstaff challenged the call and it was overturned and the Cavs took possession as it was determined the ball went out of bounds off the hand of Lowry and the quarter was over. After three quarters Lowry led everyone with 28 points. Garland led the Cavs with 14 through 36 minutes.

The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Heat extended their lead on multiple occasions to above 30 points. When the clock ran out mercifully the final score was 129-96. The story of this game was determined last night in Philadelphia with double overtime and the Cavs having to travel back to Cleveland while the Heat waited in a Cleveland hotel.  

Lowry finished the game with 28 points, leading all scorers in just 29 minutes. Porter, Jr. led the Cavs with 16 points in a losing effort. Turnovers were the story of the game as the Cavs committed 19 resulting in 28 Heat points. After shooting 57% (20 of 35) in the first half the Cavs shot only 38% (16 of 42) in the second half while the Heat shot 53% (24 of 45) in the first half and 53% (46 of 87) for the game.

The Cavs will play next Saturday night when LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (9-6, 2-5 road) come to town at 7:30 pm. Last season the Cavs won both games against the Lakers, but Los Angeles leads the all-time series 68-53. The Cavs do have the edge at the Coliseum and RMFH 33-27. 
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​POSTED 11/22/2023 23:01
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Cavaliers Craig Porter, Jr shoots a free throw.               Photo by Tommy Shirer