The Cleveland Cavaliers took a hard-fought win from Charlotte’s Spetrum Center. The Ohio team prevailed 101-102 thanks to two free throws by Kevin Love with 1.2 seconds to go, which saved the visitors from letting a victory slip away that they had in their hands but which was greatly complicated by the passing of the minutes.
And it is that Bickerstaff’s men commanded by 17 points at the beginning of the last quarter (67-84), but the great exterior success of the Hornets brought them closer and closer. Guided by an inspired Kelly Oubre Jr., author of 13 goals in that period, the locals staged an express comeback that Oubre himself culminated with a triple with 46 seconds to go, making it 101-98 and making his team caress the victory . However, a basket by Jarrett Allen closed the gap on the next possession, and after Rozier’s miss on the other side of the floor, the Cavs found themselves with the ball to win the game.
Brandon Goodwin went for the game-winner from midrange, but his shot fell so short it didn’t even touch the rim, leading to a battle to see who would get the rebound. This one ended up in the hands of Kevin Love, who scrambled to his feet but saw his shot miss as the buzzer blew. The stands then began to celebrate the local victory, without realizing that the referees had signaled a foul on Terry Rozier, a sanction that allowed Love to add two points from the free throw and give the match to his team.
“When we saw him go to the line, we had no doubt that he was going to hit both pitches,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s Kevin Love. There isn’t a game situation that he hasn’t faced or a high-pressure moment that he hasn’t already experienced.”
The power forward thus reached 25 points, finishing as Cleveland’s second scorer only behind Jarrett Allen, who reached 29. The former Nets player also managed to capture 22 rebounds, becoming the third player in Cavs history in signing a similar statistical sheet after Andre Drummond (33 + 23) and Elmore Smith (32 + 24).
At home, Rozier finished as the top scorer with 24 points, although he could not put the icing on his performance finishing off the duel on the last possession and his subsequent foul ended up condemning his team. Kelly Oubre followed closely with 21 thanks to his explosion in the fourth quarter, while LaMelo Ball stayed at 15 after signing a 5/14 shot and turning over 6 balls.
(Cover photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)