The Cavaliers came into Houston Wednesday night to battle the Rockets, a team that has not won at home since December 8. However, for the second consecutive game, Cleveland did not have their leading scorer Darius Garland(back), and it showed.
The Rockets had six players in double figures, led by Jalen Green and Christian Wood’s 21 points apiece as they upended the Cavs 115-104 at Toyota Center.
Houston(15-36) snapped an 11-game home losing streak with the win and their four-game losing streak overall. Cleveland(31-21) falls to fifth in the Eastern Conference and is two games behind the Bulls for the top spot in the conference.
Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Rockets:
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-After scoring four points in the win over the Pelicans, Evan Mobley bounced back. He had a double-double with a career and game-high 29 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Mobley had a double-double in the first half. This is how you come back after a bad performance. The great LeBron James is the last rookie in Cavs’ history to have more points and rebounds in a game.
-Kevin Love also gave the Cavs a double-double. Love had 21 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. He, too, had a double-double in the first half. According to Elias Sports, the last time the Cavs had two players with double-doubles in a single half was when Love and LeBron did it back in 2014. In addition, Love became the seventh player in team history to record 4,000 rebounds.
Points in the Paint: Cleveland had to go inside without Garland, and they scored 60 of their 104 points in the paint. They were led by Mobley, who was dominant in the lane.
The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:
Turnovers: The Cavs had 19 turnovers, leading to 27 points for Houston. Cleveland is currently 28th in turnovers per game(15.0). It’s hard to win, even against bad teams, when you turn the ball over 19 times.
-Free Throw Line: Cleveland struggled at the line against the Rockets, and they shot 15/27(56%) from the charity stripe. The Cavs lost by 11 points. If they make their free throws, maybe it’s a different game.
Three-point Shooting: The Cavs had a hard time from downtown. Cleveland shot 7/21(33%) from deep. Love had the most struggles from three-point range as he shot 1/7.
Defense: The Cavs allowed a team to score 115 points for the second time in three games. The Rockets are fifth in the NBA in points in the paint, and they reached their average as they scored 48 points in the paint Wednesday night.
Second Quarter: Cleveland trailed 32-31 after one quarter, but things fell apart in the second. Houston had their largest lead of the game of 15 points in the quarter, and the Cavs were fighting uphill the rest of the way. The Rockets led 64-53 at halftime.
Officiating: This game did not have much of flow, and that was because of the foul calls. There was 50 fouls called in this game. The two teams combined for 60 free throws.
Again, this was a winnable game for the Cavs. However, the offense did not have much of a flow against Houston, and the Cavs just could not find their rhythm without Garland.
The last three games against the Pistons, Pelicans, and Rockets were very winnable for the Cavs. However, the Cavs were 1-2 in those games, and even though they did not have Garland in two of those games, they still had to find a way to win.
“We just didn’t play well,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said post-game. “Credit to the Rockets, don’t take anything away from what they did, but we didn’t get the job done at the level that we’re capable of tonight.”
Cleveland travels to Charlotte to battle the Hornets Friday night.
Best of the Rest:
-Cedi Osman had 13 points; Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro added 11 points apiece for Cleveland.
-For Houston, former Cav Kevin Porter Jr. and Garrison Mathews had 16 points apiece.