The theme entering this one was how much it would be different.
There was less buzz around the city, less chatter of LeBron James returning to face his former team for a second time. Things were different, all right.
In complete contrast from the earlier meeting, the Miami Heat were outplayed in every phase of the game in a 102-90 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena. It snapped Miami’s five-game winning streak.
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J.J. Hickson led five Cavs players in double-digits with 21 points.
“That’s the reality, that this was coming to us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The majority of the time in this league you get what you deserve and we got exactly what we deserved. They played harder than us, they came out with much desperation and sense of urgency.”
The disappointing effort came on a night when the Heat had a chance to surpass the Boston Celtics for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. Now, the Heat finds itself in the unexpected position of having to regroup from a loss to the lowly Cavs, the NBA’s worst team. Miami made just 33 of 78 shots (42 percent) while allowing the Cavs to shoot 55 percent.
Cleveland fans claimed they were embarrassed on national television when James announced he was signing with the Heat. For one night, they were vindicated.
NBA bound? UCLA junior guard Malcolm Lee, Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs and Maryland sophomore center Jordan Williams will declare for the NBA draft, although none is hiring an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning for eligibility. Lee was the Bruins’ second-leading scorer with 13.1 points per game. Gibbs has led the Panthers in scoring the last two seasons and Williams averaged 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game for the Terrapins this season.
Whole lotta Love: Kevin Love, the NBA’s leading rebounder, will play against the Chicago Bulls tonight after missing three games.
Love has missed the last three games with a strained left groin.