Nance Jr. on Okoro: ‘He’s a winner’

The Cleveland Cavaliers were down another man on Thursday night on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, and this time, it was their leading scorer. Collin Sexton, who is averaging 25.1 PPG this season, was out against the Grizzlies due to a sprained ankle. 

However, it’s next man up in Cleveland, and the men up stepped up in a big way for the Cavs. Andre Drummond got his usual double-double(ninth-straight) with 22 points and 10 rebounds, Larry Nance was 7-7 from the field and finished with 18 points, and Cedi Osman chipped in with 16 points as the Cavaliers(5-4) defeated the Grizzlies 94-90. 

Cleveland was missing seven players, including Sexton, Kevin Love, and Darius Garland(second-leading scorer). With all that firepower out, Drummond knew the Cavaliers had to grind it out to get the victory.

“We just kept fighting,” Drummond said. “We knew this was going to be an ugly game. We knew it was going to be a real sloppy one due to some guys being in positions they haven’t been in before. We had fun, and we grinded the game out, and it was a great win for us.”

Late in the game, with the Cavaliers up 91-90, rookie Isaac Okoro made two of the game’s biggest plays. Okoro made a beautiful chase-down block on Tyus Jones, and then he made a beautiful backdoor cut for a dunk to put the Cavs up by three. Okoro finished with eight points and two blocks.

“If it wasn’t the middle of January, early January,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We be talking about that block for a long, long time. It was phenomenal.”

Nance Jr. added about Okoro: “He’s a winner,” Nance Jr. said about Okoro. “The things he does on the court are things you can’t teach. I don’t know whoever taught him how to play basketball, where he learned how to play basketball, but he learned the right way.” 

The Cavaliers have had some nice wins this season, including victories over the Hawks and 76ers, but when you consider all the injuries and had depleted this team was on Thursday night, Cleveland’s win against Memphis was their best win of the season. Now, it’s off to Milwaukee to finish off their six-game road trip against the Bucks.

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