Cavaliers comeback to stun Heat in overtime 125-119
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - In a rare home and home NBA tilt, the Cleveland Cavaliers met the Miami Heat in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night. The Cavs and Heat met in Miami just two days prior, which the Heat won by nearly 20 points. And through three quarters of Monday’s contest, it looked like there would be a repeat of the massacre in Miami.
Despite the Heat being without All-Star Jimmy Butler, sharp shooting rookie Tyler Herro and big man Myers Leonard, Miami jumped on the Cavs early. Less than three minutes into the game, Cleveland trailed 10-0 and ultimately by as many as 14 points in the first quarter.
The Cavs trailed 29-21 at the end of the first quarter, as a Kevin Porter Jr. three-pointer just before the horn cut the deficit to eight. Less than a minute into the second quarter, however, Cleveland was back down double-digits and reeling. After Miami shot 50 percent from the field in the first half to Cleveland’s 39 percent, the Heat had secured a 68-56 halftime lead. It only got worse for the Cavs in the third quarter.
When Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. converted a layup with 6:39 to play in the third quarter, Miami had taken its largest lead of the night, 84-62. Cleveland trailed by 19 points entering the fourth quarter, and it looked like the Heat were going to hand the Cavs a second straight lopsided defeat. Inexplicably, though, the Cavs put together one of their greatest comebacks in recent memory.
Cleveland opened the fourth quarter with a 19-3 run, capped by a Larry Nance Jr. bucket, that brought the team within a 102-99 deficit. When Porter Jr. scored eight straight points roughly three minutes later, capped by a three-pointer, the Cavs had taken their first lead of the evening at 107-104. Tied at 111 with the ball on the final possession of regulation, Porter Jr. missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game.
Just getting to overtime was a feat nobody saw coming after seeing those first three quarters, and the Cavs kept the momentum flowing in the extra period. Trailing 118-117 after two Goran Dragic free throws with 1:45 to play in overtime, Porter came up big again, throwing down a dunk that gave Cleveland a 119-118 lead with 1:20 remaining. A Darius Garland floater and Kevin Love layup later, and the Cavs were heading home winners. Miami scored just one point after Dragic’s free throws, and the Cleveland escaped with a 125-119 overtime victory.
“He puts the work in,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Porter Jr. “He’s talented. With him, it’s a lot about the experience, but it’s the confidence too. Once he got comfortable and got going, there’s not many plays he can’t make.”
Porter Jr. was the star of the night for the Cavs (16-41), finishing with a career-high 30 points with eight rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes. He played the entire fourth quarter and overtime, playing most of the way with five fouls.
“It’s funny, because I think we were down 19 or 20 at the start of the fourth,” Porter Jr. said. “J.B. just said ‘Score don’t matter, just win this quarter.’ And we came out with a 6-0 run and they called a timeout.
“After that it was the game. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Kevin Love recorded his 20th double-double of the season with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Nance Jr. contributed 16 points and eight rebounds, while Garland contributed 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Seven Cavaliers finished with double figures in scoring.
The Cavs have a new head coach in Bickerstaff, who took over for John Beilein after the latter stepped down during the All-Star break. The team is also working Andre Drummond (13 points, six rebounds) into the fold after trading for the big man earlier this month. Bickerstaff knows that there’s only one thing that can help Drummond become acclimated with his new teammates, especially frontcourt mate Kevin Love.
“Just time,” Bickerstaff said. “They’re both similar players in their skillsets. Both of them are dominant on the defensive boards, so they have to get comfortable playing with one another. Their skillsets suit each other…we just have to be patient with it.”
The Cavs will go for their fourth victory in five games on Wednesday when they host the Philadelphia 76ers.
POSTED 02/24/2020 22:24