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FULL HIGHLIGHTS: Cavs Grind Out 95-91 Victory Over Brooklyn Nets

David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Brooklyn Nets for the second time this season, grinding out a 95-91 victory at home on Friday night. Both teams had double digit leads in the game, with neither team able to close out the other until the final seconds of the game. Tonight marked former Cavalier Sergey Karasev’s return to Cleveland to face the team that drafted him.

Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

First Half

{adinserter 2}The Cavaliers got off to a slow start against tonight, as the Nets ran off 11 points in the first two and a half minutes of the game. Brooklyn’s starters helped take a double digit lead at 25-14 with just four minutes remaining, but LeBron James scored seven straight to bring the Cavaliers within four points. That run, however, was answered by an 8-2 Nets run, which gave them a 33-23 lead with a minute left in the 1st quarter. Mike Miller, who started tonight’s game in place of Shawn Marion, sunk his 3rd three-pointer of the 1st quarter and cut the deficit to seven points.

The 2nd quarter began the same way the 1st ended, with a Mike Miller three-pointer, giving him 12 quick points in the first 13 minutes of the game. He, Marion, and Waiters sparked a 9-2 run to tie the game at 35 apiece with 8 minutes left in the half. Deron Williams came in for Jarrett Jack at the 5:22 mark of the 2nd quarter, but came out just a minute later and headed to the locker room early with an undisclosed injury. After exchanging some baskets, Joe Johnson and Sergey Karasev helped the Nets take a 6 point lead, but the Cavaliers starters were able to run off 15 straight points en route to a 54-45 lead. The Nets answered with 2 baskets assisted by Karasev and the Cavs went into halftime leading 54-49. Mike Miller led the way for them with 15 first half points on 5-6 from downtown. James and Irving had 10 apiece on a combined 6-17 from the field and Love had just 4 points. For the Nets, Joe Johnson had 14 points and Sergey Karasev had 12 points and 2 steals at the half.

Second Half

It was announced as halftime ended that Deron Williams suffered a strained right calf. The severity of the strain is unknown and he would not return for the game. The Nets scored the 2nd half with 5 straight points to take a 55-54 lead and for the first 6 and a half minutes, the Cavaliers only 2 field goals came from the hottest guy on the floor, Mike Miller. His pair of three-pointers helped the Cavs counter the Nets’ 12 points and stay in the game. Kyrie Irving was the Cavalier who finally scored other than Miller and that seemed to open the basket for the rest of the team. The Cavs ended the quarter on a 10-5 run and took a 74-71 lead into the 4th quarter.

Shawn Marion started the 4th with 2 short jumpers after Joe Johnson hit 2 free throws. Following an and-1 connected on by Mason Plumlee, Tristan Thompson and LeBron James scored the Cavaliers’ next 12 points (5 by Thompson, 7 by James) and the Cavs took a 92-84 lead and looked like they’d close out the Nets easily once again. That wasn’t the case as the veterans Garnett and Johnson scored 7 of the next 9 points (Kyrie Irving had a layup) to get within 94-91 on a Johnson top-of-the-key three-pointer. After Irving got blocked on a drive, the Nets were able to keep the ball inbounds and did not call timeout with 19 seconds left, instead electing to try and get a quick score. The Cavs transition defense was excellent as they stopped the Nets from getting any open looks. With the clock down to about 4 seconds, Garnett attempted a 3 from the left wing that fell short and was rebounded by James. James knocked down 1 of 2 free throws to give the Cavs a 95-91 victory and moved them to 15-10 on the year.

LeBron James led the Cavaliers in scoring tonight with 22 points on 7-18 shooting, along with 4 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals. James passed Charles Barkley for 23rd on the NBA’s All Time Scoring List in the 1st quarter.

Mike Miller was the 2nd leading scorer for the Cavaliers, scoring 21 points on 7-8 from the field, all 3 pointers, in his first start as a Cavalier where he played a season high 33 minutes.

Kyrie Irving was the only other double figure scorer for the Cavs, finishing with 16 points on 6-18 shooting, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Irving is shooting just 37% in his last 8 games after floating around the 50% range for the first month of the season. Kevin Love had 6 points and 14 rebounds on just 1-10 from the field. The Cavs bench had 23 points, with 9 from Thompson, 8 from Marion, 4 from Waiters, and 2 from Dellavedova.

Kyrie Irving had his new signature shoe on display tonight:
Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.48.50 PM
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

For the Nets, Joe Johnson led them with 26 points on 10-18 shooting with 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Mason Plumlee had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Sergey Karasev scored 12 points, Kevin Garnett had 10, and Deron Williams had just 1 point in 10 minutes before leaving with a strained calf in the first half. Jarrett Jack had 13 points to lead the Brooklyn bench, which scored 28 points.

As a team, the Cavaliers shot just 40.3% from the field (31-77) and 9-24 from downtown, but got to the line 29 times and made 24 of them. The free throw differential is what won the Cavaliers the game, as Brooklyn attempted just 12 and made 8. The Nets shot 47.4% from the field (37-78) while also knocking down 9-24 from 3-point land. The Cavs out-rebounded the Nets 44-37 and just barely lost the assist battle 23-22. Both teams also had 16 turnovers.

The Cavaliers (15-10) next game is against one of the top teams in the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies (21-5), who are coming off of a rare home loss to the Chicago Bulls. The Sunday afternoon game starts at 4:30 PM ET at Quicken Loans Arena.

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