Cavaliers struggle late, fall to Heat

CLEVELAND -- For four quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers stood toe-to-toe with the two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat, but they learned a hard lesson in what it takes to finish off an opponent.

After forcing the 11th tie of the game when veteran guard Jarrett Jack buried a three pointer on a pass from guard Dion Waiters with 3:43 to play in regulation, the Cavaliers were outscored by the Heat and fell, 100-96, in front of a sellout crowd of 20,562 at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday.

"That's the necessary amount of energy and effort it takes to win an NBA basketball game, especially against a caliber of team like them," Jack said following the loss. "They're the defending two-time champion for a reason.

"We put ourselves behind the eight-ball by turning it over a few times, but we stuck with it, fought our way to the end and I can be satisfied with my guys and the effort."

The Cavaliers were within four points of the Heat even after they committed 20 turnovers which Miami turned into 26 points.

"One of the things we talked about was, 'value the ball, value each possession,'" Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "The 20 turnovers for 26 points against a good team like that is going to be tough to overcome.

"They just stepped up and they made shots in the stretch and we didn't. We had an opportunity, and I think we missed our last three or four field goals before Jack hit the two threes. I thought that was the biggest difference in the game."

In addition to the forced turnovers, the play of multi-time NBA MVP LeBron James proved to be a difference-maker for a Heat team that was without the services of guard Dwyane Wade, who missed the game to rest his knees.

James scored an arena record 25 points on 10 of 11 shooting, including five of six from three-point range, in the first quarter. The former Cavalier put the Heat up by six when he banked in a three-pointer from 25 feet away. Then, he hit back-to-back floating fade-away jump shots before burying another three-pointer to put Miami up 11, 20-9, with 6:44 to play in the first quarter.

"You had to know he was going to come out extremely aggressive," Jack said. "Usually, when D-Wade doesn't play, he tries to get himself and his team going early, and even with him making shots, and he took some tough ones, I think the thing we had to limit was his baskets in transition.

"He was able to get in a rhythm off of those, even finished the first half strong, but I thought we picked it up and made some of his looks very difficult in the second half."

Despite James' early hot shooting, the Cavaliers ratcheted up the defensive pressure and held him to three baskets and one three-pointer over the final 36 minutes of play.

"I thought he got out in transition," Brown said of James. "Early in the game, we didn't do a good job of sticking to our principles, to our rules and we did a better job in the second half. When you get a guy like that rolling, it's tough to slow down. I didn't care if he scored 70 as long as we had a chance to win.

"They're able to sit a Hall-of-Fame guy in D-Wade, and they've got another guy who's been an all-star every year he's been in the league. Then, they've got USA guys and all-star guys coming off the bench. They're a deep, experienced team. You've just got to keep fighting. I thought our guys kept fighting."


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