December 22, 2014

Medina
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Cavs 101, 76ers 93: Cavs finally turn in strong third quarter, get back on track

CLEVELAND — Two streaks came to an end Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena: The Cavaliers won the third period and they won a home game.

Locked in a tie game at halftime, Cleve­land outscored the Philadelphia 76ers by 10 points in the third period and, not coin­cidently, went on to end its four-game home losing streak with a 101-93 victory.

“We just came out with the right focus,” said Daniel Gibson, who led the Cavs with 18 points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals. “We knew that had been something that had been bother­ing us long enough. It was time to get out on the floor and do something about it.” The Cavs did exactly that, as eight players finished with at least eight points, six had at least four rebounds and three had at least four assists.

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Jamario Moon set season highs with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Joey Graham was moved into the rotation as his backup and responded with 13 points and four boards. Graham had 12 points all season coming in, 10 in Cleve­land’s previous victory over the Sixers.

Toss in Antawn Jamison (10 points, six rebounds), Anthony Parker (10 points, four assists), Anderson Varejao (nine points) and Ryan Hollins (nine points) and Cleveland was able to win on a night when young gun J.J. Hickson (eight points, two rebounds) spent the last 18 minutes on the bench.

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The Cavs won because a lot of players contributed and they avoided their customary thirdquarter swoon. Cleveland (5-5), which had been outscored 226-164 in the third period coming in, used an 11-0 run in that quarter to take control for good against the struggling Sixers (2-9).

“The third quarter has been our nemesis all year,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “Tonight we just came out with a different mind-set.”

Did they ever.

A 3-pointer by Jamison put Cleveland up 69-61 with 4:56 to go in the period. Parker then dove into the seats to save a ball from going out of bounds and flipped it down court to a streaking Jamison, who quickly dished to Varejao for a threepoint play that put the Cavs up 11.

Toss in nine third-period points by the often invisible Moon and the Cavs won the period 26-16. It was just the second time in 10 games they outscored their opponent in the third.

“We’ve got to do that every game,” Moon said. “It all starts with energy.

“The whole locker room, everybody’s been harping on that (third period),” he added. “If we want to win games, we’ve got to play for 48 minutes.”

By coming close to that, the Cavs put an end to a four-game losing streak at The Q, their longest since a similar skid from March 2-11, 2003.

Cleveland now plays four of its next five games — and 11 of its next 16 — on the road, so leaving on a positive note was important.

“We’re going to start going out on the road soon, so that was a big win for us to gain confidence and get our feet under us,” Gibson said. “Now we can go into these other arenas with the right mind-set.”

Cleveland’s bench, second in the league in scoring coming in, was terrific once again, outscoring No. 1 Philadelphia’s 54-41.

Ramon Sessions, who started at point guard in place of Mo Williams (strained groin), had just seven points on 1-of-8 shooting, but added four rebounds and eight assists.

The Sixers got 17 points and eight rebounds from Thaddeus Young, 16 points and nine boards from Evan Turner and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Elton Brand, but they could not match the Cavs’ intensity and execution, especially in the second half.

Philadelphia committed 15 turnovers that led to 19 Cleveland points, while the Cavs’ season-low eight miscues resulted in just six points for the Sixers.

“That little orange thing is pretty valuable,” Scott said. “We always talk about taking care of that thing as much as possible.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330)721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

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