There aren’t many opponents that the Wine and Gold can’t simply wear down in a shootout. But they ran into one of them on Sunday night.
Playing the final game of a three-game road trip – their second already this month – the Cavaliers out-shot the Rockets from the floor and beyond the arc, but were dominated on the boards, took half as many free throws as Houston and committed over twice as many turnovers.
All that added up to their fifth loss in seven tries so far in March — dropping a 117-112 decision on Sunday night at the Toyota Center.
In a battle between two of the league’s top three-point shooting squads, neither disappointed – with both teams combining for 33 triples on the night. The Cavaliers got the better of that matchup, going 17-for-43 from long-range. They also shot 53 percent to Houston’s 43 percent overall from the floor.
But the Rockets punished the Cavaliers on the boards – especially on the offensive glass – grabbing 52 rebounds to the Cavaliers’ 38. Houston grabbed 20 offensive boards to Cleveland’s four, all of which were snagged by Tristan Thompson.
In a battle between a pair of MVP candidates – James Harden and LeBron James – it was the Beard who got the better of things on Sunday night.
Harden, who dropped 41 points on Cleveland at The Q in the first meeting this season, posted a triple-double – leading both squads with 38 points, going 13-for-28 from the floor to go with a game-high 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Harden also made 12 trips to the stripe on the evening – one more free throw attempt than the Cavaliers’ combined starting lineup.
LeBron, who tallied triple-doubles in his previous two outings, was outstanding again on Sunday night – leading Cleveland with 30 points on 12-for-20 shooting, adding seven boards, five helpers and a pair of steals. But it wasn’t all good for the four-time MVP, who committed eight turnovers on the night.
Kyrie Irving followed up with 28 points – going 10-for-23 from the field and 5-of-6 from the stripe, adding a team-best eight assists, three boards and a pair of blocked shots.
Richard Jefferson was the only other Cavalier in double-figures – netting 16 points, all in the first half, going a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from long-distance.
Tristan Thompson, Deron Williams and Channing Frye each pitched in eight points apiece for Cleveland. Tristan was perfect in four attempts from the floor, Williams added five boards and five assists and Frye went 3-of-4 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from deep.
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