On Sunday night, in their win over the Raptors, Cleveland(16-27) got a big-time performance out of Collin Sexton, who scored 23 of his 36 points in the second half. However, Monday night against the visiting Sacramento Kings was a different story for Sexton and the Cavaliers.
Sexton was held to 15 points on Monday night, and behind De’Aaron Fox’s 30 points and rookie Tyrese Haliburton’s career-high 28 points, Sacramento(18-25) defeated the Cavaliers 119-105.
Cleveland went 2-2 on their four-game homestand and get ready to embark on a four-game road trip starting on Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls.
According to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team does need Sexton to score at a high level to be successful, but they also need to play better defense. Cleveland allowed the Kings to shoot 54% from the field, including 13-30 from three-point range.
There’s no doubt about it. We need Collin to score, for sure,” Bickerstaff said. “Again, we gave up 119. To me, that was the bigger issue than our offense.”
Cleveland did look sluggish in the second game of a back-to-back, and while Bickerstaff did not blame the loss on the back-to-back, he did notice that the team did not have enough energy on Monday night.
“Whatever the reason was, we just didn’t have that fight, that spark, that energy,” he said. “We tried, and I give our guys credit for trying, but we just couldn’t put it together consistently.”
Cleveland’s bright spot was the play of reserve center JaVale McGee, who scored a season and team-high 18 points and collected a team-high tying nine rebounds against the Kings.
“I thought JaVale gave us a nice lift off the bench with the group he was out there with,” Bickerstaff said.
McGee, 33, could be on the move before Thursday’s trade deadline, but according to the 12-year veteran, hearing his name in trade rumors does not bother him.
“It’s definitely hard when you’re in trade talks as a younger player, I feel like,” he said. “But as an older player, as myself, I’ve been in trade talks plenty of years, plenty of times, so I’ve figured how to block it out and play my game.”
McGee, who was acquired from the Lakers back in November, could help a contending team, and you almost hope he gets that opportunity. However, he’s been one of the veteran leaders for this team, and as a three-time champion, he can help these young Cavs learn how to win. It should be interesting to see if McGee will be in Cleveland after the deadline.