The Dallas Mavericks were coasting to a victory at halftime on Monday. They were leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 59-37 and were in complete control of the game. The Cavaliers made it a game by outscoring Dallas 29-20 in the third quarter and even cut the deficit down to three at the end of the game.
With five seconds remaining, Anderson Varejao dunked the ball. Then, Monta Ellis missed two free throws which gave Cleveland the ball back with two seconds left and down by three. The Cavaliers failed to get the ball inbounded and were called for a five second violation. Ellis got fouled again, but this time made both free throws and the game was over.
The biggest difference in this game was the scoring by the benches. While the Mavericks bench wasn’t efficient, they were able to put some points on the board. They shot only 12-for-31 combined from their six bench players, but were able to score 31 points and 19 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki was the only starter that had above a +1 in his plus/minus rating. The bench was responsible for five players having a positive rating, including a +14 from Shane Larkin.
On the other hand, the Cleveland bench shot 3-for-16 and scored only eight points and grabbed only 11 rebounds. Everyone in the Cleveland starting lineup other than C.J. Miles had a positive plus/minus rating. Their five bench players combined to be a minus 55 in only 61 minutes. Sharpshooter Dion Waiters went 0-for-4 in only 17 minutes and barely saw the court in the second half.
In a game decided by a few plays at the end, the lack of scoring off the Cleveland bench is what led to them losing.