Many years from now Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard may look back on Saturday night’s contest between the Cavaliers and their guests the Dallas Mavericks as the moment that he realized he would have a successful career in the Association. With 2:34 in the game the number one selection in the 2011 NBA Draft showed the poise of a seasoned veteran as he drove the lane putting the rock through the hole and putting Cleveland on top for good at 87-86. With 15 seconds to play the rookie knocked down the final bucket of the night shutting the barn door on the Mavericks and giving the Cavaliers a 91-88 victory at Quicken Loans Arena.
The game was a roller-coaster affair for both clubs as Cleveland’s offense was almost non-existent in the first and the Mavericks would see their scoring sputtering in the third. Irving led the way for the home team with 20 points while veteran Antawn Jamison knocked down 19 points in the win. Dirk Nowitzki was the game’s high scorer with 24 points while Jason Terry came off the bench with 17 points in the loss.
Perhaps Cleveland was feeling the after-effects of losing to the Orlando Magic on Friday night, but the club came on to the floor in the first looking lethargic and confused. The Mavericks would exploit the situation and when Lamar Odom split a pair at the line with 47 seconds remaining it would put his team ahead 24-15 at the conclusion of the period. Dallas appeared ready to run away and hide with 4:00 to play in the second as Terry drove the lane slipping the ball through the twine and his team had a healthy cushion with the score 44-31. The Cavaliers had the momentum on their side in the closing moments of the second as Jamison drove for a layup with 16 seconds in the period and as the contest reached the half the Mavericks lead was down 51-43.
Cleveland would open the third on a 23-8 run concluding the veteran Jamison hitting a six-foot bunny with 4:35 in the quarter putting his team on top 66-59. The Mavericks got within four points of their hosts but Cleveland had the advantage at 70-64 at the conclusion of the period. Brandan Wright came off the Dallas bench and hit two big shots in a row for his club; with 10:15 remaining in the game he slammed the ball through the cylinder knotting up the contest at 70-70. Seconds later Wright drove the lane putting the ball up and in and giving the Mavericks back the lead at 72-70 with 9:33 to play. Dallas retained the lead for the next few minutes, however they never went ahead by more than four points. Cleveland would get to within one point on a few possessions, but the Mavericks were able to keep them at bay. That is until Irving drove the lane with 2:34 left giving his team the lead for the balance of the evening. The Mavericks had plenty of chances, yet failed to capitalize and the Cavaliers sent their fans home happy.
Irving scored 20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steal while Jamison had 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Anderson Varejao is making a strong case for himself to be included as an NBA All-Star reserve; he put 17 points on the scoreboard, grabbed 17 rebounds off the backboard and had 3 assists while Alonzo Gee came off the bench with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Nowitzki dropped 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks while Terry had 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Delonte West and Brandan Wright each scored 11 points while Brendan Haywood added 10 points in the contest. Cleveland now stands at 9-13 and they will be off until Tuesday when they head to South Beach to face the Miami Heat while Dallas has a record of 14-11 and their next game will be in Denver on Wednesday as they take on the Nuggets.