Mistakes are costly in Cavaliers 107-104 loss to Miami  
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers (43-25, 22-13 home) returned home on Wednesday night after an impressive win on Monday in Indianapolis against the Pacers 108-103 without Donovan Mitchell (nose fracture), Evan Mobley (left ankle sprain), Max Strus (right knee sprain) and Dean Wade (right knee sprain). The team was without out those four again on as they welcomed in the Miami Heat (37-31, 20-16 away) into Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The meeting was the third of the season between the two clubs. They split the first two meetings, the Heat won the first meeting in Cleveland on November 22 129-96, the Cavs took the second meeting in Miami on December 8 111-99. Entering the game Miami led the all-time series 77-51, but the Cavs have the edge in Cleveland 35-28. The Cavs also have their largest margin of victory in team history against the Heat on December 17, 1991, when the Cavs beat Miami 148-80. On Wednesday night Cavaliers mistakes including 12 turnovers and a late foul were costly as the Cavs were a victim of the Heat 107-104.

The Heat came out hot early shooting 7 of 10 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range in the first 4:37 of the game to take a 17-9 lead. The Cavs did pull to within four points at 20-16 with 4:57 left when Isaac Okoro dropped in a layup. The Heat responded and built the lead to double digits at 29-19 with 2:35 left in the first on a putback layup by Orlando Robinson. The Cavs then cut the lead to 31-27 with 1:09 left on a three pointer by the newly acquired Marcus Morris, Sr. Then Morris, Sr. found Sam Merril who hit a three with :23.7 left to cut the Heat lead to 31-30 which was the score when the first quarter clock expired. Okoro and Miami’s Jimmy Butler led all scorers with seven points apiece in the first 12 minutes. The Cavs nipped the Heat on the boards 10-9.

Things did not go well early in the second quarter as the Heat scored the first seven points, courtesy of two turnovers by Caris LeVert to take a 38-30 lead with 10:37 left in the first half. The Cavs did cut the lead to 40-37 with 8:54 left on t a three by Merrill, but the Heat scored the next five points to take a 45-37 lead on a free throw by Butler with 8:03 left on the second quarter clock. The Heat courtesy of a little help from official Jason Goldenberg who accessed a technical foul to Darius Garland and then Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff increased their lead to 49-39 with 6:25 left in the first half. Bickerstaff had to be held back from going after Goldenberg by a wall of Cavs assistant coaches during a timeout. The Cavs floor boss was aloud to explain his displeasure to head official James Capers during the timeout. The Heat extended the lead to 54-43 when Jamie Jaquez, Jr. dropped in a layup and was fouled by Georges Niang. The lead grew to 56-43 when LeVert committed his fourth turnover of the first half and then fouled Patty Mills who hit both free throws with 3:36 left. The Cavs cut the lead to 59-50 with 1:58 left in the quarter after a steal by LeVert and Garland hit Jarrett Allen in the paint, with Allen finishing it off with a dunk. The lead was down to six points at 61-55 with :59.3 left when LeVert hit a three. The Cavs then cut the Miami lead to 61-57 on a layup by Allen on a pass from LeVert in the paint with :26.5 left in the first half which ended up being the score at the halftime break. Bulter led all scorers with 20 first half points. Allen paced the Cavs with 14 points, Garland also had 12 points. The Cavs still held a slight advantage on the boards 20-19 at the break. One big problem for the Cavs in the first half was turnovers and the Heat took advantage. The Cavs turned the ball over six times resulting in 11 Heat points. The two benches were about even with the Heat holding the slight advantage 15-14. Points in the paint were even 24-24. The Cavs shot 53% (21 of 40) and the Heat shot 49% (22 of 45).

The Cavs took the lead 62-61 with 1:59 left in the quarter on a layup by Allen on a pass from LeVert. The Heat quickly regained the lead and stretched it to 66-62 with 9:10 left after Allen fouled Thomas Bryant and he hit both free throws. The Cavs turnover woes continued into the third quarter with 7:50 left they had turned the ball over two more times for a total of eight in the game resulting in 14 Heat points and a 71-64 lead. The Cavs cut the lead to 76-70 with 5:01 left when Allen hit one of two free throws after being fouled by Bryant. The lead was then cut to 76-74 with 4:30 left after Garland hit a three and was fouled by Caleb Martin. The foul was reviewed for a possible flagrant it remained a common foul. With 4:03 left the Cavs had a chance to tie the game or take a lead with a three-point shot, but Garland turned the ball over with a bad pass and the Heat responded with and Terry Rozier scored giving the Heat a 78-74 advantage with 3:39 left in the third period. The turnover total for the Cavs was 10 at that point resulting in 16 Miami points. The heat lead grew to 81-75 with 1:22 left when Robinson dropped in a layup. As the quarter ended the Heat lead ballooned to 83-75. Butler led all scorers with 24 points. Allen led the Cavs with 19. The Cavs shot 33% (6 of 18) in the third quarter and Miami, taking advantage of four Cavs turnovers, shot 36% (8 of 22). The Cavs still had a slight advantage on the glass 31-30 after 36 minutes.  

With 7:08 left in the fourth quarter the Cavs cut the lead to 89-85 when Allen was fouled by Jaquez and hit both free throws, but the heat responded with a three pointer by Nikola Jovic with 6:53 left and increase the lead to 92-85. At the 5:54 mark of the fourth quarter Niang drained a three pointer to pull the Cavs to within one point at 92-91. With 4:19 left in the game Niang hit a jumper in the paint to give the Cavs a 95-94 lead and he was fouled. He hit the free throw, and the Cavs lead was 96-94. With 2:18 left LeVert was fouled after the Cavs played two minutes of stifling defense that Archie Bunker would have been proud of. LeVert hit both free throws to give the Cavs a 98-94 lead. With 2:04 left Martin hit two free throws after being fouled by Niang to pull the Heat to within two points at 98-96. At the other end with 1:34 left Niang was fouled by Jaquez, his fourth. Niang hit both giving the Cavs a 100-96 lead. But Okoro, who is known for his defense, allowed Rozier to hit a three and to make matters worse he fouled Martin giving the Heat a chance to tie the game. Bickerstaff challenged the play, but the challenge was unsuccessful. Martin hit the free throw and tied the game 100-100 with 1:24 left in regulation. The Cavs were unable to convert on the next possession turning the ball over on a shot clock violation, Miami took the lead with :39.1 left when Butler hit a jumper. The Cavs tied it up on the other end courtesy of an Allen dunk with :31.4 left. Unfortunately for the Cavs with :14 left Rozier hit a three from in front of the Cavs bench to give Miami a 105-102 lead. The Cavs cut the lead to 105-104 after running too much time off the clock leaving :03.7 second and giving Miami the ball. With :02.8 left on the clock Okoro fouled Rozier. Rozier hit both free throws to give Miami a 107-104, the Cavs had no timeouts remaining. Garland put up a desperation three that failed giving the Heat the win.

Jimmy Butler lead all scorers with 30 points. Rozier also had 24 for Miami. Allen led the Cavs in the losing effort with 25 points, Garland had 20. Allen had another double double pulling down 20 rebounds which is a new Cavs record vs the Heat breaking the previous high of 17 by LeBron James on March 6, 2017. LeVert had 12 assists, also a Cavs all-time high vs the Heat, tying the feat that had been accomplished seven other times. Le Vert also had a double scoring 16 point as well as the double-digit assists. Morris, Sr. in his home debut with Cavs scored four points with two rebounds with three assists and one turnover.

The Cavs turned the ball over a total of 12 times resulting in 18 Miami points which was the difference in the game considering the Heat turned the ball over eight times resulting in 14 Cavs points. The Cavs outshot the Heat by the thinnest of margins 47% (35 of 75) to 46% (38 of 83). The Heat however were slightly better than the Cavs from behind the three-point arc outshooting the Cavs 36% (13 of 36) to 35% (15 of 42). Miami was also better than the Cavs from the free throw line outshooting the Cavs 95% (18 of 19) to 86% (19 of 22). Rebounding was even the entire game and ended up 37-37. Miami’s bench outscored the Cavs reserves 23-18 and Miami won the battle in the paint 38-36.

The Cavs will now embark on a quick two game road trip with game one on Friday night in Minneapolis against the Timberwolves (47-22, 22-13 home) at the Target Center at 8 pm. It is the second meeting of the season against the T-Wolves. The Cavs took the first meeting on March 8 in overtime 113-104. The Cavs lead the all-time series 40-26 and lead the all-time series in Minnesota (Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Target Center) 19-14. 
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​POSTED 03/20/2024 22:07 
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Cavaliers Sam Merrill shoots a three in Cavs 107-104 loss to Miami.                                                                                                                    Photo by Tommy Shirer