A different Cavaliers team has emerged after the All-Star Break. And this weekend at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse they served notice to the Western Conference.
One night after completing the season sweep of the Nuggets, the Wine & Gold did the same thing to the Spurs – holding on in overtime for the 132-129 win to sweep the season series with San Antonio for the first time since 2008-09.
Historically speaking, four Cavaliers notched double-doubles for the first time since 1990 – as Andre Drummond returned to the lineup and Matthew Dellavedova continued his late-season renaissance. Kevin Love overcame a rough shooting night to double-up and Larry Nance Jr. came off the bench firing.
The last time Cleveland had four players in double-figures, the names were Hot Rod Williams, Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and, of course, the father of one of the Cavs’ quartet from Sunday – Larry Nance.
Drummond and Love were also the first Cavalier duo to grab at least 17 rebounds since LeBron James and Anderson Varejao did so back in 2008.
The Cavaliers led through the entire first half, but the Spurs clawed their way back in the third quarter. The final period featured a furious back-and-forth – with six ties and three-lead changes.
Four of those ties came in the final minute of regulation – including Collin Sexton drilling two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining to put Cleveland up a deuce only to have Rudy Gay tie the game on a jumper on the next possession to send the game into overtime.
In the extra-session, Cleveland never trailed – jumping out to an early lead and taking a two-possession advantage with 1:50 to play on Love’s three-pointer.
After missing five of the previous six games with a sore left calf, Drummond led both squads with 28 points, going 11-for-16 from the floor, adding 17 rebounds and a game-high three blocks.
Collin Sexton followed up with 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting, adding four assists and a steal. On the negative side of the ledger, Sexton committed seven of Cleveland’s 18 turnovers on the night.
Cedi Osman and Larry Nance Jr. added 19 points apiece in the win. Osman posted his fourth straight double-figure scoring game, going 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, adding six assists and a pair of steals. Nance notched his 12th double-double of the season – going 3-for-5 from long-distance to go with 10 boards in 43 minutes of work off the bench.
Love doubled-up with 14 points and a game-high 18 rebounds despite struggling from the floor. Delly also didn’t shoot the ball well, but still added 14 points of his own to go with a game-high 11 assists, his second straight game with double-digit dimes.
Sunday’s showing wasn’t a thing of beauty. Neither team shot better than 46 percent from the floor or 40 percent from three-point range and they combined for 81 free throws. But the Cavaliers were dominant on the glass – outrebounding the Spurs, 60-44, in the victory.
Andre Drummond showed off his defensive prowess on Sunday. In the first quarter, Drummond sent back a jumpt shot attempt and in the second quarter had a massive rejection at the rim.
Had the Cavaliers dropped Sunday’s affair, the turning point might have been the first few minutes of the third quarter, as San Antonio completed their comeback, opening the period on an 11-2 run to erase a 17-point deficit.
Instead, it was a stretch early in the fourth period, with the Wine & Gold going on an 8-0 run that turned an eight-point deficit into a two-point edge – capped by a back-to-back three-pointers from Delly and Nance and a cutting layup by Cedi Osman off a gorgeous feed from Dellavedova.
BY THE NUMBERS
27.5, 15.0, 2.0, 2.0 … Andre Drummond’s scoring, rebounding, steals and blocked shot averages in his last two games as a Cavalier.
In those two contests, the two-time All-Star is shooting 62 percent from the floor. The two double-doubles give him 46 on the year, good for 4th in the NBA this season.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff, on four guys notching double-doubles in the win …
“Especially off a tough game last night, that’s veteran leadership, guys who have been through it and dealt with those circumstances before. The adversity tonight, easily could have just laid down. Had many excuses but those guys took it upon themselves to lead the way and go scrap and go get a win.”
CALLS OF THE GAME
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network’s Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega’s Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
After wrapping up their five-game homestand, the Cavaliers hit the road for much of the remaining schedule – beginning with a Tuesday night showdown against Coby White and the Bulls at the United Center.
From there, it’s five more away from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, starting with a weekend back-to-back against Charlotte and Atlanta followed by a visit to Houston next Tuesday. The Cavs travel to Orlando two nights later before wrapping up the junket next Saturday night against the Pacers in Indiana.