The Cavs were leading by one with 20 seconds left in overtime, and LeBron James had withstood contact from the Dallas defender who flopped, sliding away. Only issue for James: he was a little off-balance. It was an awkward little 17 foot jumper from inside the elbow. The shot clock was ticking down. Kyrie Irving stood 27 feet or so from the basket behind him. James fed him the ball. Irving knocked down the shot.
Cavs by four, and the game, for the most part over.
This game was ugly for the Cavs. They fell behind 23-7 with shaky defense and worse shooting. Midway through the third quarter the team was shooting just 33% from the field. They somehow got that up to 41% by the end of the game. Even Irving, who started the game miserably, ended the game with more shots than points. 22 points on 20, while handing out nine assists to three turnovers. It was an uneven game, but the three at the end, and the steady facilitating meant the world to the Cavs.
Matthew Dellavedova had himself a game as well. He may have been the only player on the team that really put together a good first half, and the points he scored then brought the Cavs back into the game when it could have slipped away. His shooting numbers weren't great, but he made four three pointers and handed out five assists to zero turnovers.
This was also a great game from Timofey Mozgov, who provided energy off the bench. He connected with Delly for a few alley-hoop finishes, and he moved his feet well. 10 points, nine rebounds, 21 minutes of play, and he kept Tristan Thompson on the bench for much of the game. That was deserved. When it came to crunch time, the Cavs put Kevin Love at center, and Mozgov went to the bench. Even so, Mozgov will have something to build on moving forward. With Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Alrdridge, as well as Andrew Bogut on the horizon, the Cavs could really use him.
LeBron James played with a lot of intensity in this game, particularly late in the fourth quarter. There were incredible dunks and some pretty good defense. He was very active, and he finished with 27 points on 17 shots, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He's still showing good form on his jump shot, and he attacked the rim late. Two free throws he hit late in regulation tied the game.
The Cavs were outshot from the floor, from three point range, from the free throw line. Deron Williams played a fantastic game, and Dirk Nowitzki still shoots. Zaza Pachulia is a constant headache. The Mavericks move the ball at will and Rick Carlisle is as good as it gets. This was a nice road win over a good team.
See you on Thursday for the Spurs.