Cavaliers turnovers costly in 100-97 loss to Heat       
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Sunday night the Cleveland Cavaliers returned home and easily blew out the Los Angeles Clippers 122-99. The Clippers were shorthanded but after the debacle against the shorthanded Golden State Warriors nine days earlier the Cavs were out to prove a point and they did, leading from start to finish leading at one point by 40 points. On Tuesday night a resurgent Miami Heat (28-23, 11-14 road) came to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Heat had won seven of their last ten games to move into the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference just 2.5 games behind the Cavs who occupy the fifth spot. The Cavs defeated the Heat in their only other meeting this season 113-87 on November 20th. All-time the Heat have the series lead 74-49, but the Cavs do have the edge in Cleveland (Richfield Coliseum, RMFH) 35-36. Jimmy Butler did not play in the first meeting with Cavs this season and he made all the difference as the Heat got past the Cavs 100-97.

The Cavs jumped out to a 9-5 lead on a Donovan Mitchell three with 8:10 left in the first period. They extended the lead to 13-5 at the 6:52 mark after a soft layup by Evan Mobley forcing the Heat to take a timeout. Earlier in the day Mobley was named to the 2023 Jordan Rising Stars game that will be played during All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. He played in the 2022 Rising Stars game in Cleveland during All-Star Weekend as a rookie. The Cavs were not letting up after the timeout and the Heat failed to score Cleveland took the ball right back down the floor and Darius Garland splashed a three giving the Cavs a 16-5 lead with 6:22 remaining in the first quarter. Miami the proceeded to Heat up scoring the next 10 points over the next 3:30 to cut the Cavs lead to 16-15 with 2:52 left in the first quarter. The Heat then tied the game 18-18 on a three pointer by Butler with 2:25 left. Dean Wade responded just :24 later with a three to put the Cavs back on top 21-18 with 2:01 left on the clock in the quarter. The Heat took their first lead of the game when Orlando Robinson knocked down a short jumper in the paint and was fouled by Mitchell. The jumper tied the game, Robinson hit the free throw to give the Heat a 24-23 lead with :38 left on the first quarter clock. The Cavs however had the lead at the end of the period when Caris LeVert hit a long fadeaway three pointer at the buzzer to give Cleveland a 26-24 lead after 12 minutes. Butler led all scorers with 11 first quarter points. Jarrett Allen led Cleveland with six points. Mitchell had five and Mobley followed with four points. The Heat dominated the boards out rebounding the Cavs 13-7. The Cavs took care of the ball well only committing one turnover in the first 12 minutes. While Miami committed five turnovers resulting in four Cavs points.

The Heat regained the lead 29-28 with 10:13 left in the second quarter when Bam Adebayo hit two free throws after being fouled by Dean Wade. LeVert then retied the game at 29-29 hitting two free throws with 9:54 left and then took the lead 32-29 at the 8:49 mark when LeVert drove the lane hit the shot and converted the free throw. LeVert continued to have a nice night when then gave the Cavs a 38-34 lead on a turnover by the Heat that turned into a Cavs break with LeVert ending it with a layup with 7:48 left on the second quarter clock. The Heat responded however scoring the next five point and taking the lead on a layup by Caleb Martin with 7:03 left quarter number two. After the Cavs turned the ball over the Heat extended their lead to 42-38 with 6:35 left when Martin hit a three. The Heat extended their lead to 50-43 with 2:57 left when Adebayo slammed a dunk home. Adebayo continued to dominate the paint with another dunk with 1:11 left giving the Heat a 54-47 lead. The Cavs scored the next five points cutting the Heat edge to 54-52 on a Ricky Rubio three with :39 left on the first half clock. Butler hit one of two free throws with :32 left in the second quarter the to give the Heat a 55-52 lead at the break. Butler led all scorers with 14 first half points. Mobley led Cleveland with 10 in the first 24 minutes. The Heat had three players in double figures including Butler along with Adebayo with 12 and Martin putting in 11 points. The Heat continued to lead the way on the boards in the first half outrebounding the Cavs 23-18. Meanwhile the Cavs outscored the Heat in the paint 30-20. While the Heat turned the ball over seven times in the first half it resulted in only four Cavs points. The Cavs only turned the ball over two times, but it resulted in five Heat points. The Cavs bench outperformed the Heat in the first 24 minutes with Cavs outscoring the Heat bench 17-12.

The Cavs regained the lead with 10:39 left in the third quarter when Garland hit a jumper giving Cleveland a 56-55 lead. The Cavs extended the lead to 58-55 with 10:16 left in the quarter when Mobley dropped the ball in the cylinder on an assist from Mitchell forcing Heat coach Eric Spoelstra to take a timeout. The Cavs continued to build their lead after the timeout on a three pointer by Mitchell with 9:38 left giving the Cleveland a 61-55 lead. There was a problem however for Cleveland as Garland picked up his fourth personal foul with 9:00 left in the third. LeVert quickly replaced Garland on the floor. The Heat scored the next eight points to regain the lead at 63-60 after Butler was fouled by Isaac Okoro after scoring and converting the free throw with 7:20 left in the third. The Cavs tied the game at 66-66 when Allen was fouled on a hook shot and then deposited the free throw finishing the three point play with 5:34 left. The Heat was shooting well from the three point line at this point of the game hitting 10 of 22 (46%) while the Cavs were struggling from long distance shooting just 6 for 25 for 24%. The Cavs hit a three with 5:12 left from Tyler Herro to take a 69-66 lead. Aside from the Clippers on Sunday night who were miserable from three point range the Cavs have struggled recently to defend the three. It continued as Herro hit another three to extended the Heat lead to 72-66 with 4:44 left in the third. The Heat lead grew to nine points at 77-68 when Victor Oladipo turned a Cavs turnover into a fast break layup with 3:11 left in the third. As bad as the Cavs looked for parts of the third quarter, they were within one point at 77-76 with :57 left when Ricky Rubio hit a deep three from the baseline. The final buzzer sounded in the third quarter the Heat lead was gone as Mitchell hit a three at the buzzer to tie the game 79-79 heading into the final period. Butler led everyone in scoring through three with 19 points. Mobley led the Cavs with 16, Mitchell followed with 15. Cleveland outrebounded the Heat in the quarter 11-10, but still trailed overall 33-29. The Cavs turned the ball over six times in the third and it resulted in eight Heat points.

The Cavs took the lead early in the fourth 81-79 when Wade hit a jumper with 11:50 left. Meanwhile Heat role player Gabe Vincent got into foul trouble picking up his fourth. The Cavs tightened up their defense in the first three plus minutes of the fourth holding the Heat scoreless, but could not do much offensively as they had only scored two points in the period and the score remained 81-79 with 8:47 left when Cavs bench boss J.B. Bickerstaff took a timeout. After 3:47 of no scoring Mobley final hit a short jumper to give the Cavs an 83-79 lead with 8:03 left in the game. The Cavs then forced a twenty-four second violation, but Allen was then called for an offensive foul that he did not care for and the momentum was gone and Herro then hit a jumper to pull the Heat within two at 83-81 with 7:01 left. After Allen hit a short jumper giving the Cavs an 85-81 lead with 6:46 left Herro hit a long three and was fouled. He hit the foul shot tying the game 85-85 with 6:35 left on the game clock. The Heat regained the lead 89-87 when Martin drove the lane an deposited a layup with 5:25 left. They extended the lead to 92-87 when Vincent hit a three with 4:41 left. The Cavs tied the game at 92-92 at 3:28 left in the game when the much maligned (by fans) Isaac Okoro hit a three from the corner. The Cavs took a one-point lead 93-92 when Mitchell was fouled and hit one of two with 2:58 left. The Heat responded quickly taking a 94-93 lead when Adebayo drain a jump shot with 2:38 left. He extended the lead to three points with 1:56 left when he hit another short jumper giving Miami a 96-93 lead. The Cavs then turned the ball over and the Heat took advantage when Butler hit a fadeaway jumper giving Miami a 98-93 lead with just 1:24 left on the game clock. Bickerstaff took full timeout to calm the troops. With :38.6 left Mobley was fouled, he was only able to make one of two to pull the Cavs to within 98-94 effectively sealing the Cavs fate. The Cavs shot 6 for 12 from the foul line in the game, while the Heat shot 18 for 25. Garland drained a three with :08.1 left on the clock to cut the Heat lead to 99-97. Okoro then fouled Butler with :07.3 left. Butler missed the first one and drained the second to give the Heat a 100-97 lead. The Cavs could not hit a shot on their final possession giving Miami a 100-97 win. It is difficult to win at any level of basketball when you only hit 50% from the charity stripe but next to impossible to win in the NBA when you struggle with free throws. Butler lead everyone in scoring with 23 points including 10 points from the free throw line. The Heat had three other players in double figures Martin, Adebayo and Herro all had 18 apiece. Mobley paced the Cavs in a losing effort with 19. Garland who was in foul trouble for most of the second half had 16 as did Mitchell. Allen and LeVert had 14 apiece. The Cavs were outrebounded by the Heat 45-39. Turnovers were a huge problem for the Cavs in the second half. After turning it over only twice in the first half Cleveland turned the ball over 11 times in the final two quarters resulting in 14 Miami points. Even though Miami turned the ball over 15 times in the game the Cavs were only able to turn them into 11 points. With the loss the Cavs are only a game and a half ahead of the Heat for the fifth spot in the East.

The Cavs will be in action next on Thursday night against the Memphis Grizzlies at RMFH at 7:30 pm. The Cavs and Grizzlies played in Memphis on January 18 when the Grizzlies prevailed 115-114. Donovan Mitchell missed that game with groin soreness. 
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​POSTED 01/31/2023 21:51
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Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio.                                            Photo by Tommy Shirer