Cavs survive in OT over Clippers behind James’ 39 points
CLEVELAND — This is not something the Cleveland Cavaliers want to get used to, but they’re making the most of their ability to come back in games.
LeBron James scored 19 of his 39 points in the second half and overtime and the Cavaliers clawed back to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 118-113 on Friday night.
The Cavs, who have won four straight, didn’t lead until overtime and trailed by as many as 15. In a win Monday in New York, they trailed by as many as 23 points.
“That’s how the game is being played for us at this point in the season,” said James, who added 14 rebounds and six assists with six turnovers on Friday. “It’s good to know that we’re building character and building resiliency and you can do that with a new group then that definitely can help us in the long run, so we can’t say that we wish we wouldn’t do that, but it is what it is. That’s the way the game is being played and we got adjust to it.”
Kevin Love added 25 points and Dwyane Wade scored 23 points with a season-high 11 rebounds for the Cavs. Kyle Korver scored all nine of his points after halftime, including a four-point play 6:43 left in the fourth quarter when Montrezl Harrell knocked him over as his 3-pointer was going through the hoop.
The Clippers have lost seven straight. Blake Griffin led them with 23 points but shot 8-for-25. DeAndre Jordan added 20 points and 22 rebounds. Jordan went over 7,000 rebounds for his career, becoming the eighth youngest player (29 years, 119 days) to do it since 1985-86, according to the Clippers.
Los Angeles has lost two games during this slide by four points or less, and of course this one went to overtime. Griffin missed two shots with less than 27 seconds left in regulation.
“This is about the fourth game to me that we had a chance to win it at the end we just have not gotten it done,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It tells you that you’re closer than you think you are, no matter what your record is.”
James’ free throw with 4:41 left in overtime gave the Cavs’ their first lead of the game at 106-105. The Clippers didn’t score in the extra session until there was 1:57 left, and the Cavs took a 114-107 lead on Love’s second consecutive 3-pointer.
“Ultimately, being close doesn’t really help you win games (in the future),” Griffin said. “Being close is not what we want.”
James scored 16 in the fourth quarter, including eight in a row, to forge a 105-105 tie. His 3-pointer with 47 seconds left tied the game, and followed an offensive rebound from Love on James’ missed 3-point shot. Cleveland trailed by 15 with 3:14 left in the third quarter and by eight with 4:55 to go in regulation after Rivers’ 3-pointer.
“We’re built for when the game slows down,” Wade said. “And late in games is when the game slows down. And that’s kind of where we are good, so that’s what we’re built for. Unfortunately, we’ve been in that position a lot, we may continue to be. But we’re definitely built for it.”
Rivers scored 14 in the fourth for the Clippers.
Cavs point guard Iman Shumpert left the game at halftime with left knee soreness. Jose Calderon, who hadn’t played in five games, took his place at the start of the second half. Wade, who logged 37 minutes, was the Cavs’ primary point guard in this game.
The Cavs shook off a terrible start to forge a 56-56 tie by halftime. After falling behind by 12, the Cavs made their last eight shots and trailed 27-24 after one quarter. James’ jumper with .8 seconds left forged the halftime tie.
Cleveland made 17 of 20 free throws in the first half. The Clippers connected on the only two foul shots they took.
The Cavs were coming off a four-game road trip that ended Wednesday in Charlotte.
“I don’t know if it was the trip or not, but it’s like we were in quicksand,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “We weren’t fast. We weren’t getting to the guys, getting to the ball. I thought the second half was a lot better. We were flying around a little bit, made the multiple effort on the second side and it made our defense a lot better in that second half.”
NOTES: The Cavs missed their first 10 shots and trailed 12-0 in the first quarter. A possible reason? Cleveland canceled shootaround Friday morning. ... Cavs G Derrick Rose missed his fifth consecutive game due to recurring soreness in his left ankle, and the team announced he would miss at least another two to three weeks. Rose was examined Friday by Cleveland Clinic physicians and will wear a boot to immobilize the ankle. He originally suffered the injury Oct. 20 and returned to the court Oct. 29. ... Clippers coach Doc Rivers said G Patrick Beverley (sore right knee) has a chance to play at some point during their current five-game road trip. Beverley missed his fifth consecutive game Friday. Rivers said G Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute) and F Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia, left foot) probably would not play on the trip.