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In the first half, defense was Cleveland’s issue. The Heat poured in 67 points while shooting 58.1% and 47.6% from 3-point range. Four Miami players had already scored double figures by the end of those sizzling 24 minutes.
The Cavs made adjustments at halftime, picked up the physicality and limited Miami to 48 points over the final two quarters, including a measly 17 in the third. But Cleveland’s offense faded, barely cracking the 100-point mark for the first time in five games.
“I thought it was a tale of two halves,” Bickerstaff said following the loss. “I thought we did a phenomenal job in that second half. I thought our scrap and our grit was much better in the second half. You’re playing a caliber team like this with the weapons that they have, you’ve got to play for 48. There were just small plays that I thought early kind of let us down.”
Starting center Jarrett Allen, who is back home recovering from a concussion, missed his fourth straight game. Larry Nance Jr. didn’t make the trip either, absent for a third straight time. Kevin Love remained on a tight minute restriction, playing 23 minutes before getting pulled in the fourth quarter and riding the exercise bike for the remainder of the night.
The Cavs shot the ball poorly for the first three quarters, which proved fatal once the Spurs built a significant lead. Darius Garland lead the Cavs with a caree-high 29 points from the field with 8 assists. Collin Sexton turned his game up in the fourth quarter, contributing 29 points on 12-25 shooting.
The young backcourt duo was forced to do the offensive heavy lifting, as contributions from the rest of the team outside of Stevens were limited. All other Cavaliers outside of that trio combined for 37 points with Jarrett Allen leading the way with 15 points and 11 rebound. DeMar DeRozan and Keldon Johnson posted impressive performances for the Spurs with 20 points and 21 points to go along with 21 rebounds for Johnson.