Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We’re built to win ugly’

The Cleveland Cavaliers had maybe their worst loss of the season when they fell to the Pistons in Detroit Sunday night. Fortunately for the Cavs, they had an opportunity to get right back at it on Monday night at home against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Unfortunately, the Cavs were without their leading scorer Darius Garland(back), but they still got it done. Cleveland defeated the Pelicans 93-90 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

The Cavs(31-20) are 9-2 in their last 11 and have won five straight at home. In addition, they finished the month of January 11-4(most wins in a month since November 2017), while the Pelicans(18-32) have dropped four straight.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Pelicans.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Brandon Goodwin had a career and game-high 21 points, including three threes off the Cavs’ bench. Goodwin, who started the second half, was recently with the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate, and he took full advantage of his opportunity Monday night. 

-Kevin Love was huge off the Cavs’ bench. He had a double-double with 15 points(3/8 3 PT FG) and 11 rebounds. This was Love’s eighth double-double of the season. 

Love made big plays down the stretch. 

With the Pelicans leading 86-84, Love would hit a fadeaway jumper to tie it up at 86 at the 2:54 mark of the fourth. With just over two minutes to go, and the Cavs trailing 88-86, Love would hit another fadeaway shot to tie things up at 88. In addition, with the Cavs trailing 90-88, Love would battle for the rebound that set up a putback dunk by Jarrett Allen to tie things up at 90 with 1:31 left to go.

-Lamar Stevens gave the Cavs a big lift off the bench. He scored 11 points on 5/6 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks. 

Cavs’ Bench: Cleveland got 52 points from its bench, and they outscored the Pelicans’ bench 52-22. The bench also outscored the Cavs’ starters 52-41. Cleveland’s starters were a combined -15, while the bench was a combined +30. This was the seventh game this season that the Cavs have gotten 50-plus points from their bench. 

Fourth Quarter: The Pelicans had their largest lead of nine(75-66) with just over nine minutes left in the fourth. Cleveland went on a 20-11 run to tie it at 86 late in the fourth. Cleveland shot 56% from the field and outscored the Pelicans 33-24 in the final period.

-Cedi Osman started at point guard for Garland, and he had seven points and a career-high 12 assists. The Cavs needed everybody to step up, and Osman did the job.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded by their opponent for the second consecutive night. New Orleans had a 51-37 edge on the glass, including 16 second-chance points. The night before, in their loss to the Pistons, Cleveland was outrebounded 48-41 and gave up 20 second-chance points.

-Evan Mobley struggled Monday night. The rookie was 1/7 from the floor and scored four points. He did have five rebounds and three blocks. However, he had a team-low -9 rating. Mobley’s streak of 17 straight games in double figures was snapped Monday night.

-Dean Wade, who started for the injured Lauri Markkanen(ankle), was 0/5 from the floor, all from deep, and finished with zero points in 19 minutes of action.

Bottom Line:

This was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. We all knew things would be difficult for the Cavs without Garland, but losing to the Pistons and Pelicans on back-to-back nights would have been awful. However, they found a way to get it done.

As we look at the standings in the East, the Cavs(fourth seed) are one game behind the Heat and Bulls for the top spot in the East, so if they keep winning, they’ll keep climbing the standings. 

“The message was, ‘We’re built to win ugly,'” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame.

What’s Next:

The Cavs return to action Wednesday night in Houston against the Rockets.

Best of the Rest:

-Devonte’ Graham led the Pelicans with 20 points; Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and nine rebounds, Josh Hart had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

-Jarrett Allen added 16 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks; Isaac Okoro chipped in with 14 points for Cleveland.

-The Cavs improved to 18-3 when holding teams below 100 points.

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