Cleveland Cavaliers have fourth-quarter closer that other teams lack, leading them to doorstep of late-game history

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Through all the adversity this season — losing streaks, injuries, trades and coaching questions — the Cleveland Cavaliers remain the league’s best when it comes to closing out games.LeBron James has a simple explanation.”Cause we got a closer,” James said with a smile.Of course, he was referring to himself. Late in the fourth quarter against New Orleans Friday night, James scored eight straight points to put the game out of reach. In an ugly win against the tanking Dallas Mavericks, he shook off a rough shooting game and canned two backbreaking 3-pointers.In what might’ve been a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night against the top-seeded Toronto Raptors, James delivered in crunch time once again.During a four-minute stretch in the final period, James scored nine of the Cavaliers’ 11 points, plowing his way inside or getting to the free-throw line where he was showered with MVP chants.James’ latest masterpiece ended with him walking within a few feet of Toronto’s bench where he pounded his chest repeatedly and shouted, “I’m still a problem!”James certainly is. And the Raptors got another reminder of that Tuesday night, just weeks before the postseason is set to begin.But in a season dotted with plenty of other problems, the fourth quarter hasn’t been on that list for the Cavaliers, as they improved their mark to 38-0 when taking a lead into the fourth.They are the only undefeated team in such games this season and if they don’t stumble in any of the final four that remain, Cleveland could become the first team in such games to go undefeated over the course of a season during the shot-clock era.”It’s something we talk about a lot getting into the fourth quarter, making sure from a defensive standpoint that we have to buckle down,” Larry Drew said. “Offensively we have to be the better team as far as executing. You’ve got to come out of timeouts executing. You’ve got to be the better team in the fourth quarter. You’ve got to win the fourth quarter on both ends of the floor. You’ve got to come up with the loose balls. You’ve got to come up with the long rebounds. You’ve got to make sure that in that fourth quarter that you give yourself the best chance to win, whether it’s on the offensive end or the defensive end or whatever the last play has to be, you have to make that play.”We talk to our players a lot about that fourth quarter and the importance of it. You can have the rockiest first couple quarters that you have. We put a lot of pride in the fourth quarter on what we need to do because if we’re talking about that goal that we want to eventually get to, you have to be good in the fourth quarter.”

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