The Cavs defeated the Bucks in overtime last night, in a game that should not have been as difficult as it was. Give Cleveland credit for persevering. Cleveland was minus Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett, and Milwaukee was minus Caron Butler, Zaza Pachulia, Gary Neal, and Larry Sanders. Giannis Antetokounmpo started his second game for the Bucks. In a ragged affair that saw the lead change several times in the second half, Cleveland was able to tie it up with just under two seconds left in regulation. Kyrie drove the right lane and missed, but Tristan Thompson was able to tip in the miss to tie the ballgame at 96. Chris Middleton missed the ensuing two point try, and the Cavs escaped to overtime.
In overtime, Kyrie kicked off the quarter with two straight threes, and then Jarrett Jack chipped in the next five off drive-and-dish assists from Irving. Cleveland was unable to establish much breathing room as a balanced attack from the Bucks cut the lead to 105-107, before Kyrie escaped a trap to feed Earl Clark for a dagger three from the right wing as the shot clock expired. Cleveland continued to give up three pointers in the waning minute, first to Khris Middleton and then to O.J. Mayo, but thankfully Kyrie was 4-4 from the line in the last twenty seconds to make the game 111-114. O.J. Mayo missed two open threes that would have tied it, in the last three seconds. Crisis averted.
Kyrie was suffering from a malady, and his “flu game” heroics were extraordinary. He scored 39 on 13-25 from the floor, and 11-12 from the line, to go along with six dimes, and a career high four blocks. He had a hop in his step all evening. C.J. had his best game since his calf injury, getting 15 points in 30 minutes. Boardmeisters, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson, combined for 28 rebounds (15 offensive). Earl Clark had his best game as a Cav with a much needed 14 points in 19 minutes off the bench, including 4-6 from three.
Despite shooting 39%, including 3-14 from Andrew Bynum, 1-7 from Alonzo Gee, and 4-12 from Tristan Thompson, Cleveland got a gritty win on a night when shots weren’t falling and they didn’t have their full complement of players. Jarrett Jack overcame a very rough first three quarters to put up 11 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Cleveland held the Bucks to 40% shooting and out-rebounded them 56 to 52. Apologies to our readers, as we, ourselves, didn’t have anyone to staff this game. Look for a more in-depth recap after tonight’s Bulls game, and be glad Cleveland gutted out a win last night.
Tom: I caught the second half and OT. Just wanted to point out a few things before kicking it to the beat writers to try to augment Nate’s: Not a Recap.
-No one hated on the Earl Clark signing more than I did. Time to eat crow. The guy is canning over 45% of his threes this season.
-Tristan Thompson could be downright dominant if he could figure out how to either finish or get fouled when he finds himself with the offensive board underneath the hoop. I feel like he ends up ducking, extending the ball, and then jumping straight up just about every time this occurs – and it is blocked 80% of the time. He needs to either kick the ball out or learn how to draw fouls in that situation.
-It’s about time the Cavs won a game where they didn’t play great. They’ve had 3 or 4 losses when they played well. (Heat, Blazers, Pelicans off the top of my head) They were due.
-Mike Brown press conferences are getting to be legendary. I’ll admit I only receive them vicariously through twitter, but apparently he answered a question about not playing down to competition by citing the Cavs beatdowns at the hands of San Antonio and Atlanta – which is an incredible way to disagree with a beat writer. Also, when asked if scoring 110+ ppg is “Mike Brown basketball”, the Coach answered: “No. Mike Brown can’t coach offense.” RAWR