BY JUSTIN LADA
(MIAMI, FL) - The Cavaliers headed into Miami dressing just 11 players. Through three quarters it looked like Cleveland was going to have enough to keep up with the Miami Heat, but Byron Scott had to dig deep to his bench, using Christian Eyenga, Luke Harangody and Ryan Hollins for extended minutes. The end result saw the Heat pull away in the fourth with a 107-91 win.
The Cavs, after going back and forth with Miami all game, made just two shots in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, running out of gas, being short off the bench. The fourth quarter saw the Cavaliers score just 19 points, going another roughly three minutes without scoring. At the 9:03 mark, Ramon Sessions hit two free throws, making it 84-78. The Cavaliers didn’t score again until the 5:37 mark when Kyrie Irving hit a pair of free throws, making it 92-80 Miami.
Irving struggled a bit on the night, taking a lot of hits while driving the lane while Scott, despite the injury problems, tried not to overuse him. He had 16 points on 5-15 shooting, six rebounds and six assists, but also had five turnovers.
Getting the start, thanks to continuing injuries to Anthony Parker, was Alonzo Gee. Gee responded well with 17 point while getting the nod at shooting guard.
With Daniel Gibson still out with a neck infection, Sessions played 30 minutes, in an effort to not over play Irving. Sessions however was 2-8 from the floor, had nine points, four assists and four turnovers.
Antawn Jamison had one of his better games of the season with 25 points and nine rebounds. Anderson Varejao had 11 points and 11 rebounds, his fourth straight double-double.
However, without having Gibson, Tristan Thompson and Gee off of the bench, Scott was left with limited options. After playing just 1:07 in one game this season, Eyenga played 20:48 in the loss, and while he didn’t score, he had four rebounds and an assist and a huge highlight reel block in the second quarter.
The Cavs benches had been one of the better ones in the league this season, but were easily outplayed by the Heat bench. During his minutes, Luke Harangody had to guard Udonis Haslem, who put up 14 points and eight rebounds off of the bench. Mike Miller had eight point and nine rebounds as well.
Dwyane Wade had 26 points, including the back breaking breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter, to stretch the lead to 90-78. Sessions free throws made it an eight point game (94-86). Gee hit a three pointer with 2:41 remaining, making it 96-89, but back to back shots by Wade and James put the game out of reach for the Cavs, whose transition defense throughout the game was not able to get back and stop the Heat from running the pace.
The Cavaliers bench was outscored 26-16, and they made just four shots from the field on the night. They also combined for seven turnovers, while Miami’s bench didn’t have any. Miami improved to 19-6 while the Cavs fell to 9-14, tied with the Knicks, ½ games behind Milwaukee for the eighth seed.
The Cavaliers will return home on Wednesday night to host the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers just lost G Chauncey Billups for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Tip-off is 7 p.m. from the Q. Daniel Gibson practiced with the team Monday, but did not fly with the team to Miami.
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