The first half could not have gone worse for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In Luol Deng’s home debut, Cleveland got out to an awful start, as the Dallas Mavericks put up 59 first half points in comparison to the Cavaliers’ 37. But in the second half, behind a huge third quarter from Kyrie Irving and scrappy play from Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, Cleveland was able to mount a massive comeback and slowly got back into the game. And despite outscoring Dallas by 17 points in the second half, some late turnovers (with one in particular that cost the Cavaliers the game, but more on that in a minute) and seven missed free throws in the fourth quarter ultimately resulted in the Cavaliers falling by a final score of 102-97.
KEY PLAY TO THE GAME
The Cavaliers were gifted one last opportunity to complete their massive comeback after Monta Ellis (who, coming into the game, was shooting 80.3 percent from the charity stripe) missed both of this free throw attempts with a shade under three seconds to play. After grabbing the ensuing rebound and calling a timeout, Cleveland had a chance to tie the game or at least try to complete the comeback. But Jarrett Jack, who was tasked with inbounding the ball, failed to make the necessary entry pass and committed a five-second violation. The violation resulted in a turnover – giving Dallas the ball back – and put the final nail in a coffin on the Cavaliers comeback hopes.
Also of note: It appeared as if the Cavaliers only had Kyrie Irving as an available outlet on the failed inbounds and when his flare failed to get him open, it left the Cavaliers out of options.
WINE & GOLD MVP
Tristan Thompson was the star of Cavaliers comeback today. He was somewhat absent in the first half, but played like a man possessed down the stretch. Seemingly every time the Cavaliers needed an offensive board or a bucket, Thompson came up big. It was quite possibly his best stretch of play this entire season and the team seemed to feed off his play and he – not Kyrie Irving or Anderson Varejao – was the reason the Cavaliers made their final push towards victory. He’s had bigger statistical outbursts than the 19 point, 10 rebound performance he put forth today, but I don’t think there has ever been a more inspired performance from the power forward at any point in his career.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) January 20, 2014
Totally forgot this was Luol Deng’s first home game—seems like it’s been weeks since the trade. Excellent reception. — Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) January 20, 2014
Cool game, Cavs. Usually you wait until after dinner to annoy the crap out of me — nice of you to get it out of the way early today. — Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) January 20, 2014
Shawn Marion playing like he’s back in his glory days with the Suns. — Mike Schreiner (@Mike_RDE) January 20, 2014
How has no one made an Austin Carr drinking game yet? — Cole Patty (@ColePatty) January 20, 2014
TRISTAN THOMPSON IS A LEGITIMATE DUDE — Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 20, 2014
Cavs had a chance to tie against the Mavs, but they … commit a five-second violation. Season in a nutshell.
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) January 20, 2014
On Wednesday, the Cavaliers will take on the Chicago Bulls for the first time since the two made the deal that netted the Cavaliers Deng’s services. It won’t a homecoming for the swingman (as the game is in Cleveland) but still should be an emotional night for Deng as he plays against his former teammates for the first time. Basketball wise, this is a very winnable game for the Cavaliers. The Bulls, without Deng and the injured Derrick Rose, are more beatable than they have been in sometime. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. from Quicken Loans Arena and is the second game in the Cavaliers current five game home stand.