Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Hornets: ‘We weren’t able to get enough stops down the stretch’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(21-38) continued their playoff push on Friday night in Charlotte(29-30) against the Hornets, a team they had beaten twice this season, and for most of the game, it appeared the Cavaliers could do it again. Cleveland led 55-48 at halftime but was outscored in the third quarter by seven, and the game was tied at 78 entering the fourth.

Charlotte’s Terry Rozier scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth; Miles Bridges hit two dagger corner jump shots and scored seven of his 25 points in the fourth, and P.J. Washington also scored seven of his 25 in the final quarter as the Hornets avoided the season series sweep by the Cavs and won 108-102 at Spectrum Center. 

Cleveland was led by Collin Sexton’s 28 points and Darius Garland’s 27. 

“Give them credit; they made plays down the stretch,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who returned after missing Wednesday’s game due to personal reasons, said after the game. “Bridges hit big shots, Washington hit big shots. We weren’t able to get enough stops down the stretch.”

Turnovers were an issue for the Cavaliers on Friday night. Cleveland committed six of their 16 turnovers in the third quarter, and they got beat up on the glass. Charlotte had 15 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points. 

“I think the offensive rebounds hurt us for sure,” Bickerstaff said. “We gave up 15 offensive rebounds, and they won the turnover battle, so if you are given them extra possessions on the offensive boards, and you’re not taken care of the ball, that makes it difficult.”

Charlotte’s Bismack Biyombo was huge on the glass. He finished with 11 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass. According to Jarrett Allen, that’s on him.

“I have to do a better job,” Allen said. “That falls on me. On my matchup, he got way too many offensive rebounds, which turned to extra possessions for the Charlotte Hornets, which led to extra threes on their end, so just put that side on me.”

With the loss on Friday night, Cleveland falls to five games behind the 10th-seeded Wizards, who the Cavaliers will play in D.C. on Sunday night. Washington has won seven straight and playing their best basketball of the season. There are 13 games left, so if Cleveland wants to make the playoffs, which is a long shot at this point, they have to beat Washington on Sunday night. 

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