Take one look at the box score, and you would have thought the Cleveland Cavaliers were playing the other Los Angeles basketball team. Led by LeBron James, the Cavaliers put together a late fourth quarter rally and then survived a 3-point attempt at the final buzzer by Baron Davis for a 102-101 victory on Saturday night.
But the last second shot thing is getting a little too familiar for the Cavaliers.
Two days after experiencing a buzzer beater by Sundiata Gaines of the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, the Cavaliers (31-11) late smothering defense worked as they survived a scare in L.A.
Take another look at the Clippers record and you would have thought the Cavaliers would have it easy, especially playing without Chris Kaman, their leading scorer. Also in the last month, the Clippers (17-22) have beat the Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, and Heat. And they were very close to adding Cleveland on that list.
James scored 13 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter in leading the Cavs to their 15th win in 19 ties and eight of their last 10 on the road. The beat the Clippers for the seventh straight time, are 40-9 against Western Conference teams since the start of last season, having won their last 11 against Pacific Division clubs.
“We just got in attack mode,” James said. “I decided to be a little more aggressive on the offensive end, either making a play for myself or making a play for my teammates. We also had to get stops on the defensive end, which we were able to do. We just turned it up another notch.”
Mo Williams had 18 points and Delonte West added 14 points in 29 minutes off the bench, even though he didn’t participate in the morning shootaround because of stomach issues.
The Cavs trailed by 13 points in the second half and were down seven early in the fourth quarter before James took over and led another comeback effort.
“When you have a guy like LeBron, you can get bailed out,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “If you get some stops and make some hustle plays down the stretch.”
The Cavs didn’t get that many stops all night. All the Clippers did in this one was shoot 60 percent from the floor, the highest the Cavs have allowed this season.
Rasual Butler tied a career high with 33 points and Eric Gordon added a season high 28. The Clippers have lost all four games without Kaman, their leading scorer, who is averaging 20.4 points and 9.4 rebounds and was last week’s Western Conference player of the week.
The Cavaliers finished their longest road trip of the season 3-2 and will play their next 11 of 13 at home, including the Los Angeles Lakers on January 21.