CLEVELAND, Ohio – This is not how you start. This is how you end up.
The month of February was not pleasant. He featured a 10-game losing streak and nine double-digit losses thanks to a horrible stretch dotted with playoff-caliber landmines. But the Cavs knew they had to weather the storm. They have, winning a second straight game Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, 112-96.
With the end of the month drawing to a close this weekend, the Cavs have temporarily reversed their fortunes.
A carbon copy of the win that snapped Tuesday night’s streak, the Cavs got off to a fast start, avoiding the early deep hole that plagued them the previous weeks. A 10-point lead evaporated thanks to a sloppy second quarter with repeated defensive failures at the point of attack, allowing the Houston drivers to get into the paint.
But Cleveland did not break. Regrouped at halftime, the Cavs emerged with the intensity that head coach JB Bickerstaff demanded before the game, shaking off any thoughts of tired legs in the second off a back-to-back.
The worst team in the league in the third quarter edged the Rockets 34-24 in those 12 minutes. The Cavs did not give up in the fourth, winning that period by eight points. In total, the Cavs won the final 24 minutes, 64-46.
Jarrett Allen abused Houston’s undersized interior. With the Rockets’ tallest starter at just 6 feet 6 inches, Allen had 26 points on 10 of 11 from the field to complete 18 rebounds and four blocks in a shocking 37 minutes. Allen even did a coast-to-coast dunk with one hand, a jaw-dropping highlight that energized the crowd.
Collin Sexton rebounded from a terrible first half, made some adjustments in the locker room and reached the 20-point mark for the seventh game in a row. Sexton, who scored just seven points on 2 of 9 shots from the field at halftime, looking flustered by Houston’s physique, finished with 23 points, burying seven of his 10 shot attempts in the second half. Darius Garland also found his rhythm, posting a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists.
Dylan Windler’s hot perimeter shooting raged on from Tuesday. After hitting 5-of-5 from deep in the win against Atlanta, Windler drained all four of his bombs, the longest streak of 3s made by a Cavalier since Kyrie Irving in 2015.
At the other extreme, the Cavs held the Rockets to 40% shooting and 30.3% from 3-point range, showing signs of their struggle earlier in the season. It’s the first time he’s held an opponent below the 100-point mark since February 1.
Two in a row. A win against Philadelphia in the February final would make it three. That’s called a winning streak. It has happened before.
Just not since January.
The main office needed to make a decision on Dean Wade before 5pm on Wednesday night. If you were listed beyond that point, your contract would be fully guaranteed. The Cavs not only kept Wade, they put him in the starting lineup for the second game in a row. Wade finished with a career-high 11 points on 4 of 4 shooting and 2 of 2 from beyond the arc.
Until next time
The Cavs have two days off before heading to Philadelphia for a matchup Saturday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
New Cavs face masks for sale: This is where you can buy Cleveland Cavaliers-themed face covers for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All NBA profits were donated to charities.
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