Philadelphia News & Search
CLEVELAND, OH – Brett Brown knew going into Friday’s game in Cleveland that the Cavaliers were capable of flipping the switch at any time.
In their 122-105 triumph over the 76ers, the defending champs did just that.
Having dropped a season-high tying three straight games, and five of their last seven overall, entering Friday’s affair, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and company responded in resounding fashion.
James used a series of runout dunks late in the first half to put Cleveland squarely in control of Friday’s sold out tilt at Quicken Loans Arena, en route to delivering a dynamic showing. His box line was highlighted by 34 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
Irving, who didn’t mix words in expressing his frustration with the Cavaliers’ efforts in recent weeks, took the court with purpose. Relying on an array of pull-up jump shots and determined drives to the basket, the point guard snapped off 11 of his 24 points in the opening quarter, very much serving as Cleveland’s sparkplug.
Love, meanwhile, looked very much like the power forward who earlier this season was named an All-Star for the first time since he joined the Cavaliers three years ago. The big man racked up 18 points and 10 rebounds for his 35 double-double of the campaign, showing no signs of the left knee pain that kept him sidelined for a month up until his return to action two weeks ago.
J.R. Smith supplied Cleveland with an impactful punch from the perimeter. Midway through the third period, he blocked a shot, recovered the loose ball, sped down the floor, and flushed a transition triple to widen the gap to 27 points. The Cavs’ carried a game-high margin of 32 points into the fourth frame, and never looked back.
In their two previous meetings with Cleveland this season, the Sixers hung tough, dropping a pair of November match-ups at The Center by five points. Through 12 minutes Friday, there were 10 lead changes and five ties, and it seemed as if that competitive trend would carry over again, despite the Sixers only having nine players at their disposal.
The Sixers trailed by three points, 32-29, heading into the second quarter, but James ripped off eight points in a row to help the hosts to a double-digit lead.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot established a new career-high Friday with 19 points, sharing team-high scoring honors with Richaun Holmes. Justin Anderson registered his first double-double of the season, and the second of his career, manufacturing 12 points and 10 boards.
• Shawn Long came off the bench for the Sixers to produce 16 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
• Tristan Thompson was a presence on the boards for the Cavaliers, gobbling up 11 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass. He also scored seven points.
Friday marked the Cavaliers’ sixth and final ‘Hardwood Classic Night’ of the season, giving the team one last chance to don its mid-1980s burnt orange throwback “CAVS” uniforms in honor of a pivotal era for the franchise. One of Cleveland’s key players during that period was none other than World B. Free, himself a prominent figure in Sixers’ history as well. The Cavs flew Free in for Friday’s game at Quicken Loans Arena, introducing him as a “Cavaliers legend” who “helped save Cleveland basketball.” The former All-Star guard, always nattily-clad, received a hearty ovation, and, as the footage below shows, seemed to genuinely appreciate the recognition.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 31, 2017
Sunday in Toronto, the Sixers will reach the end of a lengthy, three-plus week run on the road, as they complete a stretch that’s required them to play 11 of 14 games away from South Philadelphia. The final stop on the team’s two-game trek doesn’t figure to get any easier, though. Like Friday’s opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Raptors too are aiming to secure home court advantage for at least the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Struggling heading into the All-Star break, the Raptors have since experienced a dramatic reversal of fortunes that to essentially solidify a top-four spot in the standings. Prior to Wednesday’s four-point loss to Charlotte, Toronto had matched a season-high by winning six consecutive contests.
Philadelphia News & Search