A shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers team beat the Dallas Mavericks at home on Wednesday evening, 99 to 98.
The Cavaliers rested LeBron James and Russian center Timofey Mosgov, limiting the team to an eight-man rotation after a four game Western Conference road trip where Cleveland won the first three, but dropped the last game of the stretch to the Utah Jazz. Cleveland continues to race towards 50 wins as they now sit at an Eastern Conference best, 48 and 19.
Dallas has been struggling as of late, having lost five games in a row before their win on Monday against the Charlotte Hornets. The Mavericks, who have fallen to 34 and 34 on the season, are in the eighth seed in a tightly contested Western Conference. They also continue to fight for playoff seeding with the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trailblazers, and the Houston Rockets.
A Game of Runs
The LeBron-less Cavaliers came out focused and took an early lead over Dallas, leading by three points at the end of the first quarter. Cleveland continued to fight in the second quarter, and managed to push their lead to 20 points at one point, having led 50 to 30. However, the Mavericks made a run of their own late in the second quarter, cutting Cleveland’s lead to six and only entering halftime down 57 to 51.
Cleveland continued to fight in the second half, as they extended their lead to double digits in the third quarter. They maintained this large lead for much of the third, and entered the fourth quarter up on the Mavericks 84 to 68. Dallas, however, would not go away and made a huge push in the fourth quarter to narrow the lead greatly.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Cleveland’s lead had been cut from nearly 20 points to just seven. Dallas continued to pressure the Cavaliers and managed to cut their lead to only two points with less than two minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, the Mavericks were unable to capitalize on multiple possessions down the stretch, allowing the Cavaliers to pull out another close win at home.
Both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love stepped up for the Cavaliers in James’s absence. Irving, who started the game very hot, led Cleveland with 33 points. Love was huge for Cleveland, scoring 23 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. 15 of those points came off of 13 post ups according to Cavaliers commentator, Fred McLeod.
There has been a lot of discussion about Love’s lack of post possession. On Wednesday night though, he capitalized on them greatly. Channing Frye added 14 points for Cleveland off the bench off 5 for 7 shooting from the field.
The Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitzki and David Lee, who both scored 20 points each on a combined 15 for 28 shooting from the field. J.J. Barea added a spark off the bench, contributing 17 points.
The Cavaliers will travel to Florida this weekend, as they start a back-to-back against the Orlando Magic on Friday evening.
The Mavericks return home on Friday to face off against the leagues top team, the Golden State Warriors.