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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Game Recap: New Kids on the Block
- Updated: February 24, 2018
(Memphis, TN) — The combination of LeBron James collecting his 11th triple-double of the season and a 28-11 third-quarter run helped the Cleveland Cavaliers get back in the win column with a 112-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Friday night. Cleveland’s defense over the final three quarters also aided in delivering the win, with Memphis hitting at just a 33 percent clip from the field during that time frame.
“We got active on the defensive end and played a great defensive game in the second half,” George Hill said.
As they had at the start of the game, the Grizzlies held the early momentum to start the second half by scoring 11 of the first 14 points to give them a 60-57 lead. However, over the final 8:11 of that third period, the Cavs put together their surge that put them on top, 85-71, entering the final quarter. Strong defensive play helped the Cavaliers build up their advantage as they held the Grizzlies to just 37 percent shooting from the field in the third.
Asked immediately after the game what sparked the run that turned the game around, James said:
“Our intensity and pace. We were getting stops and we were gone.”
In that final quarter, the Cavs were never threatened, keeping their lead above double digits throughout the period and boosting to it as many as 26 points. Once again, defense led the way, with the Grizzlies managing to shoot just 26 percent on their field-goal attempts in the quarter.
James, who had already achieved his triple-double before the third quarter ended, finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Hill matched him in scoring and was one of five other players to score in double-figures.
“I’m the leader of this team and no matter if it’s a back-to-back or three games in four nights, I’ve gotta have energy, gotta have effort and I gotta be in tune with the game plan,” James said. “I’ve always tried to be a triple threat anytime I hit the floor and tonight resulted in a triple-double.”
Larry Nance Jr. scored 15 and grabbed eight rebounds, while Clarkson added 14 points and four boards. Rounding out the quintet were Rodney Hood and Cedi Osman, who each chipped in with 10 points apiece. All told, the team’s four newest players tallied a total of 57 points on the evening.
“They’ve all been great additions,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said about the four new players. “But we have to continue to get better.”
Even though the Grizzlies entered the game with a seven-game losing streak, they had early control of the contest. Hitting 10-of-14 from the field to get things going, Memphis held a 23-10 advantage with 4:57 left in the first quarter and handed out eight assists during that stretch. The Cavaliers managed to get the margin down to seven at 27-20 when the period ended.
Using a 13-3 run over the final 3:38 of the second quarter, the Cavaliers finally tied the game at 49 with 1:35 left before intermission and eventually held a 54-49 lead when the horn sounded. The five 3-pointers by the Cavs during the period and a defense that held the Grizzlies to 38 percent shooting from the field during those 12 minutes served as the chief reasons for their improved play.
“That’s my job to push the pace, get everyone involved and play free,” Clarkson said.
The Cavaliers return home for a huge Sunday afternoon matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. The game will be nationally televised on ABC and will tip off just after 3:30 p.m.
“Right now, with the games we have, we’re playing every other day, basically, so we want to fast track what we do,” James said. “So that means more film sessions, paying attention to detail when we have our shootarounds and when we get on the floor, being able to implement that right away.”