MIAMI: There was a time when the Cavaliers could play lousy for three quarters and find a way to win it in the fourth quarter. That was when LeBron James was hanging around, but Saturday night it was James’ current team doing it to his old one.
The Cavs led by seven with 1:58 to play, but Ray Allen’s 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds left sent the Miami Heat to a 110-108 victory in a game the Cavaliers led most of the way. Allen’s 3-pointer gave the Heat their first lead since halfway through the first quarter, but the Cavs couldn’t hold it down the stretch.
Daniel Gibson’s 3-pointer – the Cavs’ 14th of the night – gave them a 108-101 lead with 1:58 left. But the Cavs didn’t score again. Their final possessions ended with a pair of misses and a pair of blocked shots.
Allen’s 3-pointer put the Heat ahead 109-108 and was the highlight of a 33-point fourth quarter for Miami. The Cavs still had a chance to win it, but Jeremy Pargo’s shot was blocked by Dwyane Wade with 2.6 seconds left.
Allen was immediately fouled and split a pair of free throws. He missed the second, leaving the Cavs with just six-tenths of a second to get a final shot off. They struggled getting the ball inbounds and never got the shot off. The Heat have won six of seven games against the Cavaliers since James joined them two years ago.
The Cavs did plenty of good things in the loss and weren’t realistically expected to hang so long against the defending champs. They were playing the second of a back-to-back, while the Heat were off the last two nights.
The Heat entered as the league’s highest-scoring (104.3 points) and best-shooting team (49 percent). They also led the league in 3-point shooting (43 percent), which looked like sheer signs of disaster given the Cavs’ defensive problems this season.
But the Cavs built their advantage by outshooting the Heat, making 14 3-pointers while the Heat made just five through three quarters. But Allen got hot in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of his 17 points, including the crushing 3-pointer at the end.
Pargo and Dion Waiters each had 16 points and Pargo added seven assists as the Cavs placed all five starters in double figures and outproduced a Miami bench that features Allen, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis. The Cavs’ reserves outscored Miami’s 41-26, and Allen had 17 of the Heat’s 26.
James had 30 points and six rebounds, including 14 points in the third quarter to keep the Heat close.
Life of Riley
Cavs coach Byron Scott said before Saturday’s game the biggest thing he learned from Heat president Pat Riley was the importance of discipline. Riley, of course, coached Scott in Los Angeles.
“He was a big-time disciplinarian,” Scott said. “Just playing in that type of system and that type of environment, it just rubs off on you. You expect your players to be very disciplined in what they do at all times. If we get beat, it’s not because of missed assignments or things like that.”
Scott was quick to add the youth of the Cavs lends itself to blown assignments and silly mistakes, but he’s trying to instill that same discipline.
“It’s a growth process,” he said. “It’s going to take some time.”
LBJ loves Andy
James said before the game he has been impressed with the way Varejao has blossomed over the last couple of seasons. With James in Cleveland, Varejao averaged 7.0 points and 6.7 rebounds. Since he left for Miami, Varejao is averaging 10.6 points and 11.1 rebounds.
“He’s amazing. I’ve always loved him as a person and teammate,” James said. “He has a knack for rebounds you feel like may be yours that are out of his reach. He has a knack for coming up with them. His motor is hard to match in this league. You have to know when you’re going into a game with him you have to have some energy or he’ll have one of those 11-offensive rebound games against you.”
The Cavs clearly need some work in the blocks department. They began Saturday with 103 of their shots blocked, the most in the league. Meanwhile, they’ve only blocked 28 shots, the fewest in the league.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.