Cavs’ Garland: ‘We’re playing soft’

The Cleveland Cavaliers got some good news Wednesday night when All-Star Darius Garland(back) made his return after missing three games.

However, that did not matter. 

Charlotte built a 24-point lead in the third. Cleveland cut the lead to 12 in the fourth, but the Hornets went on a 13-0 run to push the lead to 25, which was their largest lead of the game, and Charlotte would defeat the Cavs 119=98 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavs are frustrated, and the frustration got to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who was ejected after receiving two technicals in the third. After the game, Bickerstaff said he apologized to the team for losing his composure.

The Cavs(36-26) have lost two straight; Charlotte(31-33) snapped their two-game losing streak.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hornets:

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland was back, and he played like an All-Star. Garland had a game-high 33 points(5-10 3 PT FG) to go along with four assists. It was good to see him back on the court and making plays.

-Cleveland’s other All-Star, Jarrett Allen, had a double-double with 18 points(7/9 FG) and 11 rebounds. This was Allen’s second double-double in three games. He also had two steals and a block. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Well, where can we begin? 

Defense: It was a battle between the highest-scoring team(Hornets) in basketball against the team(Cavs), which allows the least amount of points in the NBA, and the Hornets’ offense overwhelmed the Cavs’ defense.

Cleveland allowed 96 points after three quarters.

The Hornets shot 50% from the floor and made 17 threes. 

The Cavs have lost five of six games, and in those five losses, Cleveland allowed over 100 points. 

First Quarter:  Charlotte jumped on the Cavs early, and they were hot from the start. The Hornets shot 60% from the floor, including 67% from deep. Kelly Oubre Jr. was 4/4 from three-point range in the quarter. Charlotte led 38-31 after one and led by 15 points at halftime.

Rebounding: Cleveland got outrebounded by the Hornets 45-37. In addition, Charlotte had 11 second-chance points, while the Cavs had five, so Charlotte cleaned up on the glass when they missed, which wasn’t a lot.

Bottom Line:

The Cavs could be in trouble. They are not defending like they were earlier in the season. Cleveland(106.5 ppg) is 26th in points per game, and in their last five losses, Cleveland is allowing 115.8 points per contest. Plus, they are missing the offense they would get from Caris LeVert.

It’s clear if this team does not get their defensive identity back soon, they could keep on losing, especially with the schedule they have coming up. Four of Cleveland’s next five games are against @76ers, Raptors, @Bulls, and @Heat, so the defense has to get better real quick.

As for the Eastern Conference standings, Cleveland(36-26) and the Celtics(37-27) are in a virtual tie for the fifth seed, and the seventh-seeded Raptors are 1.5 games behind both teams. 

“We’re playing soft. We’re giving up 38 points in a quarter that happened twice this week; that’s unacceptable,” Garland said.

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to Philadelphia to battle the 76ers Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 29 points; Kelly Oubre Jr. had 19 points. Charlotte had six players in double figures.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to the Hornets:

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