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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Dallas Mavericks Final Score: Huge nights from Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson wasted in 102-97 loss

Basketball during the day is usually fun. The first half of this game sucked. The second half was fun. The Cavs still lost though.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers hadn't played at home in a long time. In fact, this was Luol Deng's first game at Quicken Loans Arena as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a relatively successful road trip, you'd have thought that coming home would mean that the Cavs could build on their momentum and start doing good things. And then the first half of this game against the Dallas Mavericks happened.

The Cavs didn't defend well at all in the first half. The Mavs did whatever they wanted, got into the paint with ease, and finished and-1s through some weak fouls. As if that wasn't enough, the Cavs couldn't score either. I think they were stuck at 23 points for about 6 and a half hours, give or take a few. The improving offense that I just posted an article about was nowhere to be found. This was basically how I felt after the first half.

Dallas went into the locker room at halftime enjoying a nice 22-point lead. Fortunately for us, the Mavs have a tendency to blow some leads and the Cavs were able to get back into the game in the 2nd half behind some really hot shooting by Kyrie Irving. They got the lead down to just 10 points in the 3rd quarter, but it was back to 15 at the beginning of the 4th quarter.

For the sake of this recap, we'll focus on the fourth quarter. I know that all four quarters count the same, but lots of things happened in the 4th. Let's run through the things.

Fourth quarter shenanigans
  • Jarrett Jack did some really horrible things and some pretty good things. At one point, he totally ignored a wide open three-point shooter and instead decided to drive towards the basket with his face and commit an offensive foul. But later, he hit a *super* deep three-pointer off a broken play. Hooray, Jarrett Jack!
  • Tristan Thompson was a monster. His activity level was at an all-time high as he was just getting to every loose ball. He extended plays, fought through contact, and bailed his teammates out on some bad missed shots. He had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the game. Eight of those rebounds came on the offensive glass. David got a little bit excited.
  • Kyrie hit a ton of big shots to get the Cavs back into the game, but he took some rough ones down the stretch. He was just 10-27 for the game...that's not efficient. I understand wanting the ball in his hands, but the Cavs' offense was so pretty as they fought back into the game and they just went away from that at the end.
  • The officiating wasn't terrible, but it didn't help the Cavs either. Marion stepped out of bounds and the refs totally missed that one. There were a few questionable block/charge calls that all went against the Cavs. It's not the reason the Cavs lost, but they didn't get any home cooking here.
  • Luol Deng is wonderful. I might just say this in every recap.
  • Anderson Varejao had 18 points and 21 rebounds. He's also wonderful.
  • The Cavs missed lots of free throws in the fourth quarter. Usually you need to make free throws if you want to win close games. The Cavs did not make free throws.
  • At the very end of the game, Monta Ellis went to the line with a chance to put the Mavs up by 5 points. Instead, he missed both free throws and the Cavs were given new life. They had 2.7 seconds to run a play and get a shot to tie the game at 100 on a three-pointer. But nobody could get open on the inbound and Jarrett Jack was whistled for a 5-second violation because this is the worst inbounding team in the history of the NBA.
  • Give the Mavs credit...they aren't a bad team. They'd be the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference and have lots of quality veterans on their roster. Dirk is still awesome, by the way.

Overall, this wasn't a good game...but it wasn't a horrible game. There's that old cliche about the first home game after a long road trip being the toughest and that certainly seemed to be the case in the first half. But after that horrible 24-minute stretch, the Cavs looked a *lot* better. They just dug themselves too big of a hole in the first half to get the win.

It could have turned into another huge blowout loss like the one against the Sacramento Kings, but the team fought back instead. That's definitely good to see. It's encouraging and I still think we'll start to see some more wins going forward on this home stand.

Another thing: where was the bench today? The Cavs got virtually zero contributions from their reserves tonight and Dion Waiters was nowhere to be found. The bench was outscored by the Dallas bench 33-8.


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