Kyrie Irving had an inspired game as the Cavs managed to hold off the Mavericks to record a 99-98 win at the Quicken loans arena, Cleveland tonight. The Cavs improve to 48-19 with the win and retain the first place of the Eastern Conference, leading the second placed Raptors by two and a half games. The Mavs, who just snapped a 5 game losing streak against the Hornets in their last game are 34-34 and lie in the final playoffs spot of the Western Conference, one and a half games ahead of the Jazz. They are also only half a game behind the Rockets in the 7th spot and a game behind the Blazers in the 6th. They spurned a great opportunity to tie the Blazers for the 6th spot with this loss.
Kyrie Irving lead the Cavs with example in the absence of LeBron James-who was rested for the night as the Cavs are already looking ahead to the playoffs. He ended the night with 33 points, 5 rebounds and a vital steal in the dying moments that won it for the Cavs. Kevin Love posted a double double of 23 points and 18 rebounds along with 2 blocks. Channing Frye added 14 points off the bench, shooting 60% from behind the arc. He also had 3 rebounds and a steal. J.R.Smith added 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Matt Dellavedova added 8 points and 7 assists off the bench.
Veteran Dirk Nowitzki lead the scoring for the Mavs as he ended the game with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. David Lee also added 20 points and 3 rebounds off the bench. J.J.Barrea also came off the bench to add 17 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists. No starter other than Nowitzki scored more 6 points for the Mavs. Parsons had 6 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. If only their starting 5 contributed a bit more towards the scoring, the Mavs could’ve taken this game easily. They were also completely out rebounded 48-32. The Cavs grabbed 13 offensive rebounds as they Mavs struggled with rebounds all night.
The Cavs showed no signs of missing LeBron in the first quarter as they took the game to the Mavs, making most of their shots. They made a 9-3 run midway through the quarter to take it 31-28. The second and third quarters were the same as they totally dominated the boards and took full advantage of them. But to the Mavs credit, they stayed in the game as the Cavs looked to blow them away in the second. They were leading by as much as 18 at one point. The Mavs made a 15-0 run to cut it down to three. The Cavs however, still blew them away as they made an 18-5 run to open the third. They took the second quarter 26-23 and the third 27-17 to establish a 15 point lead at 83-68. The fourth quarter saw the Mavs almost complete an astonishing comeback. They were trailing 88-71 with 10 minutes to go. The Mavs then made an 11-0 run in 3 minutes to make it 88-82. They made another 11-4 run to further cut down the deficit to 1 point, with the score at 93-94 with 3 minutes left on the clock. Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris then missed two open 3 pointers which proved costly. With the score at 95-97 and 2 seconds on the clock, Kyrie then made a steal from the pass to Nowitzki to seal the deal for the Cavs. He was fouled and went to the line to convert both the free throws to make it 99-95. Deron Williams then hit a 25 foot 3 pointer as the buzzer sounded and left the Mavs wondering what would have been, had one of Nowitzki or Harris made those open 3s. The Cavs closed out the game 99-98.
The Mavs are in the middle of a ruthless schedule as the next go to Oakland to face the unbeaten at home Warriors tomorrow. The Cavs meanwhile will play the Magic away tomorrow.
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