Maybe it doesn’t erase the sting of losing your franchise player or make up for losing over 50 games in a season, but for one night the Cleveland Cavaliers were on top of the world with an impressive 102-90 win over the playoff bound Miami Heat.
The Heat, winners of five straight and 9 out of 10, came into the Cavaliers game with every motivation to win. They were tied for the second seed in the East and could take sole possession of that spot with a Cavs defeat and of course it’s Cleveland, the team that heckled and derided their franchise star and former Cavs star, LeBron James, with such fervor in their first meeting on December 2nd game. They left this game humbled and embarrassed as the young, yet feisty Cavs dominated them from start to finish.
The Cavaliers, who have only 15 wins on the season, took it to the Heat from the tip-off and never looked back, running up a 23 point lead in the 3rd before the Heat woke up and made a run to tie it at 83 in the 4th. With that run, the Heat looked poised to take control of this game…that is, until Cleveland answered with 12 straight points to crush Miami’s chances of stealing this game. The Cavs were led by 21 points from J.J. Hickson and 20 points from Anthony Parker.
”That was a great feeling,” said Parker, whose 20 points was had with only 9 shots. ”I thought the first time we played them here, we were embarrassed. They took a little bit from us. This was the night we wanted to get that back. For us, but more for the fans because they’ve been so great for us all year. That was a great feeling getting it back for them.”
The major difference between the two teams this night was intensity, energy and defensive ability. The Cavaliers had all three while the Heat floundered in all of those areas.
"The majority of time in this league you get what you deserve and we got exactly what we deserved," Head Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They played harder than us. They came out with much more desperation and sense of urgency. This pattern started two games ago, and we’re a little confused what our identity is."
James tried his best to will his new team to a victory, he had his fourth triple double of the season with 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, but a poor defensive performance by the ‘King’ was enough to help ensure that the little engine that could Cavaliers left this night with a W.
"Anytime we play anybody, we know we’re going to get the best out of them," James said. "They came out and played extremely well. It was a good win for them."
One game doesn’t erase a season of futility but it does give a city in basketball mourning a reason to hang their heads a little higher as they delivered a statement to their former star that was a season in the making.
Photo Courtesy of: AP Images