The Cavs(25-15) began their five-game road trip in Denver against the Nuggets(26-13) on Friday night. Cleveland would not have the services of their leading scorer Donovan Mitchell(rest). However, they did get Darius Garland back, who missed two games with a sprained thumb, but it wasn’t enough.
Denver had seven players in double figures, including all five starters, as they defeated the Cavs 121-108 at Ball Arena.
Cleveland’s three-game winning streak was snapped, while the Nuggets have won two straight.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Nuggets
Caris LeVert led the Cavs with a team-high 22 points, including three threes. This was the third time in four games that LeVert has scored 20-plus points.
Cedi Osman gave the Cavs a nice lift off the bench. He scored 10 of his 15 points(6/10 FG, 3/3 3-point FG) in the first half.
Not So Great:
Defense: Cleveland allowed the Nuggets to score 121 points on 53% shooting, including 49% from downtown. The Nuggets made 17 threes. Cleveland has the number one-rated defense in the NBA, but the defense betrayed them on Friday night.
Third Quarter: Denver led 62-58 at the break, and they took over the game in the third. They outscored the Cavs 32-24 and had their best shooting quarter of the game. Denver shot 55% in the quarter, including 50% from three-point range.
Cleveland, like most teams, had no answers for Nikola Jokic as he scored 11 points on 4/5 shooting from the field and was 3/3 from deep in the quarter.
After a Bones Hyland three late in the third, Denver had its largest lead of the quarter at 94-79 and would take a 12-point lead into the fourth.
Cleveland got the lead down to nine in the fourth, but they did not get much closer.
Free Throw Shooting: Cleveland was an abysmal 18/32(56%) from the charity stripe. The biggest culprit? Evan Mobley, who was 0/6 from the line.
Defeating the Nuggets in Denver would have been tough with Mitchell, and without him, it became an even more difficult proposition. As good as Cleveland is, this is a game you probably said would have been a loss when you looked at this west coast trip, so in reality, there’s no shame in losing to the team with the best record in the West on the road.
However, the Cavs(7-11) need to be better on the road.
Cleveland heads to Phoenix to face the Suns on Sunday night.
Best of the Rest:
Jokic had a triple-double for the Nuggets with 28 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals; Jamal Murray added 18.
For the Cavs, who had six players in double figures, Garland had 21 points and eight assists. Jarrett Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Mobley had 12 points and nine rebounds.
For the second time in five days, a game was delayed in Denver due to rim issues. This game was delayed for over eight minutes early in the fourth, and against the Celtics a few days ago, the game was delayed for 35 minutes.