Cavs’ Sexton on loss to Raptors: ‘It was embarrassing what took place in the first half’

On Saturday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a golden opportunity to move up in the Eastern Conference’s standings against the Toronto Raptors. Toronto was without their top two leading scorers in Pascal Siakam(rest), Fred VanVleet(hip), and they were without Kyle Lowry(foot).  However, Cleveland picked the wrong time to play one of its worst games of the season.

Cleveland allowed a franchise-worst 47 points in the first quarter and a franchise-worst 87 points in the first half on Saturday night. The Raptors shot 85% from the field in the first quarter. Toronto finished the first half shooting 71% from the field and would lead by as much as 38 points. Ultimately, Toronto would snap Cleveland’s two-game winning streak and win 135-115 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Gary Trent Jr. was sizzling for the Raptors. He shot 17/19 from the field, including 7/9 from three-point range, and had a career-high 44 points.

Collin Sexton, who led the Cavs with 29 points, was embarrassed by what he saw in the first half against Toronto.

“It was embarrassing what took place in the first half tonight,” Sexton said. “We pretty much just came out being soft. They just pretty much got whatever they wanted when they wanted it.”

Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff was clearly disappointed after the game and thought the team lacked toughness in the first half.

“We just didn’t have any grit,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we let them do what they wanted to do. They were beating us up one-on-one. We weren’t good helping one another. It was a bunch of different things, but it starts with the fight and the toughness that I don’t think we started with.”

This will be one of those games Cleveland wishes it could have back. If they would have defeated Toronto on Saturday night, the Cavs would have had sole possession of the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference and would have put them one step closer to the 10th-seeded Bulls(final spot in playoffs).

However, this is what young teams do. They look great at times, and they look bad at times. Saturday night was that “bad at times.” Fortunately for Cleveland, they get back at it on Sunday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans.

Notes:

Cleveland was again without Jarrett Allen(concussion) and Larry Nance Jr.(illness).

The team announced on Saturday that they’ve signed Mfiondu Kabengele to a 10-day contract. Kabengele was a first round pick of the Nets in 2019. He is the nephew of NBA legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton, Garland: ‘The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of’

The Cavaliers have not played many complete games this season, but on Monday night in San Antonio, the Cavs did just that.

Cleveland(18-32) won every quarter against the Spurs(24-24) and led by as much as 32 points. The Cavaliers would defeat the Spurs 125-101. Cleveland snapped their five-game losing streak, and the Spurs have now lost three straight. The win over the Spurs was their largest road win for the Cavs since 2017.

The Cavs were led by Darius Garland, who had a career-high 37 points. The second-year guard was 14/22 from the field, including 5-10 from three-point range. Garland also added seven assists. Collin Sexton added 22 points for the Cavs. The Sexton and Garland backcourt combined for 59 points and 12 assists on Monday night. 

Garland has had a lot of success against the Spurs this season. He set his previous career-high of 29 points against San Antonio back in March. According to Garland, he knew that Monday was going to be a good day during shootaround.

“I actually said something at shootaround early this morning,” Garland said. “I was like, ‘It’s going to be a good day.’ Everybody was locked in during shootaround.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the backcourt play and believes what Sexton and Garland did on Monday night is what elite backcourts do in the NBA.

“The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what they do consistently. When you think of the elite backcourts in the league, you look at those numbers, and those numbers come consistently, and I think our young guys are still growing. When your backcourt plays like that, that’s how you carry a team.”

Seeing the 21-year-old Garland and the 22-year-old Sexton perform the way they did on Monday night is exciting for the Cavs and gives the team more hope about the future. These two can and have been dynamic at times this season. To Bickerstaff’s point, if they continue to play at this level, Sexton and Garland can carry a team and possibly carry the Cavs to big things for years to come.

Photo: @Cavs/Twitter

Cavs’ Love: ‘So happy to be back out there, not hurting, just feeling like myself’

Seeing Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova in uniform was a welcomed sight for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they hosted the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. In the first quarter, Love was on fire. He scored all 13 of his points in nine minutes of action, including 3/5 from three-point range. However, he would not score another point the rest of the way.

Cleveland, who trailed 58-56 at halftime, would struggle in the third quarter and be outscored by 10 points, and they would lose to Philadelphia 114-94 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Cleveland has lost four straight and five of their last six games.

Shake Milton had a game-high 27 points for the 76ers off the bench, while Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 24 points and Dean Wade chipped in 16 points. Entering this game, Cleveland was 2-0 against Philadelphia this season.

The third quarter has been a struggle for the Cavaliers this season, and last night Cleveland shot 35% from the field in that quarter, including 0/5 from downtown. Philly would take a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter and would lead by as much as 26 points in the final period.

While the Cavaliers lost on Thursday night, seeing the 32-year-old Love out there and active was a good sign for Cleveland. Love played 20 minutes against the 76ers. After the game, Love, who missed 43 games due to a calf injury, discussed his performance against Philadelphia.

“I think, naturally, just winded. First and foremost,” Love said. “I felt a lot more like myself. I’m, obviously, not there yet but knew that I was coming into this game, I felt confident that I could get in some sort of a rhythm. It, again, just made me so happy to go out there and just play basketball… So happy to be back out there, not hurting, just feeling like myself. That really made me happy.”

Dellavedova made his season debut against Philadelphia on Thursday night after missing time due to a concussion and Appendectomy. While he went 0/4 from the field and did not score in 15 minutes of action, Dellavedova was happy to be out there.

“It was, obviously, tough being out for that long,” he said. “I finally shook like the neck thing. I was hoping to try to play before the break, then I had to go get my appendix out, so I’m just really excited and grateful to be back out there. I appreciate the support of my family, wife, friends, teammates, all the medical staff here, and also, J.B.(Bickerstaff) and Koby(Altman) for sticking with me.”

Injuries have hurt the Cavaliers this season, and on Thursday night, they had their 22nd different starting lineup. However, a lot of teams have dealt with a lot of things this season. Getting Love back helps, and they will get Larry Nance Jr.(illness) and Jarrett Allen(concussion) back soon as they try to make a run for that 10th and final spot(3.0 games behind the Bulls) in the Eastern Conference. 

Photo: @cavs/twitter

Poor shooting, turnovers hurt the Cavs as they fall to Los Angeles

The Cleveland Cavaliers(17-28) had the first half they desired on Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers(29-17). They played good defense, holding the Lakers to 44 points, and they shared the ball, 15 assists on 20 field goals. Cleveland led by seven points at halftime, but the second half was a much different story especially the third quarter.

In that third quarter, Cleveland shot 14% from the field, including 0/9 from three-point range, and scored only 10 points. Conversely, the Lakers shot 57% from the field and outscored Cleveland by 18 points in the quarter. Ultimately, Los Angeles would outscore Cleveland by 21 points in the second half and defeat the Cavaliers 100-86 at Staples Center.

The Lakers, who snapped their four-game losing streak on Friday night, were without LeBron James(ankle) and Anthony Davis(calf), but Montrezl Harrell stepped up and had a game-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Cleveland, who was without their leading scorer, Collin Sexton(hamstring), was led by Larry Nance Jr., who had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The third quarter killed the Cavaliers, but according to their head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team got good looks. However, they could not make shots.

“We missed shots,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we did a good job of moving the ball. You go back in look at how we created shots for one another; we just didn’t make them.” 

Nance Jr. added: “We got good looks; we took good shots. We just didn’t make them.”

Cleveland also finished the game with 21 turnovers, which led to 21 points for the Lakers. 

“We turned it over too much in the first half,” Bickerstaff said. “But in the second half, we turned it over more at the top of the floor, which gave them opportunities to get out in transition. We just have to be more sure with the ball.”

Tough loss for the Cavs when you consider the start they had, but it’s challenging to win the NBA when you don’t make shots and turn the ball over at a high rate.

Cleveland gets back at it on Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings, who beat the Cavaliers 119-105 last Monday night in Cleveland. The Cavaliers finish their four-game road trip on Monday in Utah against the Jazz.

Notes:

On Friday, the Cavs announced that they have agreed on a buyout with Andre Drummond, who now will become a free agent. Drummond has not played since February 12 after he and the team agreed to have him sit until they can either trade or buy out the two-tIme All-Star.

The 27-year-old Drummond was acquired by the Cavaliers in a trade with Detroit last season on February 6, 2020. In 33 games (all starts) with Cleveland, he averaged 17.5 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 28.7 minutes per contest. 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Spurs: ‘I thought there was an opportunity if we would have competed the way we did in the fourth quarter for 48’

When the Cavaliers get off to a slow start, nine times out of ten, they will lose. Against the San Antonio Spurs(22-16) on Friday night, Cleveland(15-26) trailed by three points after one quarter and trailed by 12 points at the break. The Cavaliers fell behind by as many as 22 points in the third quarter. Ultimately, despite a valiant effort in the fourth quarter, they would fall at home to the Spurs 116-110.

Cleveland is now 2-20 when trailing after the first quarter this season. However, they battled hard in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers scored 44 points in the final stanza, but it was too little, too late. 

The Spurs were led by Keldon Johnson, who had 23 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, which was the first 20-20 game for San Antonio since Tim Duncan did it in 2013. Cleveland’s backcourt had another huge game on Friday night. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland had 29 points apiece. For Garland, the 29 points were a career-high.

According to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, this team has to be at their best from the beginning.

“I think we got off to a slow start,” Bickerstaff said. “I’m not necessarily sure what the cause of it was, but the message to the group was, ‘we don’t have the opportunity to ease our way into games.’ We have to have that spirit for 48 minutes in order to give ourselves a chance… I thought there was an opportunity if we would have competed the way we did in the fourth quarter for 48.”

Cleveland was able to get back into the game because of the play of rookie reserve Lamar Stevens. The two-way player gave Cleveland a huge spark in the third and fourth quarters. in 17 minutes of action, Stevens had career-highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Bickerstaff was happy with his play.

“He was superb tonight,” Bickerstaff said. “Unbelievable effort. He sparked that group, and he was phenomenal tonight.”

Bickerstaff is correct. Cleveland is not good enough to start slow. They have to bring that same energy that they brought in the fourth throughout the game, but these are the things that happens when you have a young team.

Cleveland plays the third game of their four-game homestand against the Raptors on Sunday night.

Nance Jr. on Sexton, Garland: ‘It was a complete performance for those guys tonight’

The backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland came through for the Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Garland scored 18 of his career-high-tying 25 points in the first half, and Sexton scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers(15-25) defeated the Celtics(20-20) 117-110 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to snap their four-game losing streak. 

“They were both awesome in terms of looking for their own shots and in looking to get us our shots,” Larry Nance Jr. said about Sexton and Garland. “It was a complete performance for those guys tonight.”

Sexton and Garland scored almost half the team’s points(54 points) last night, and when those two are flowing, Cleveland is tough to beat. 

“I just really wanted to come out aggressive,” Garland said after the game. “Last night, I was not as aggressive as I usually be, so I just wanted to come out and play my game and be more aggressive.”

Rookie Isaac Okoro also came up big for the Cavaliers, especially in the fourth quarter. Okoro scored seven points of his 15 points in the quarter, including an emphatic jam, plus the foul that pretty much put the game away.

According to Garland, who got the assist on that play, he knew Okoro would do something special when he got the ball. 

“When I gave it to him, I knew he was going to punch that,” Garland said. “That was the backbreaker right there. “That got the crowd up on their feet. That got us up on our feet. We knew it was game after that. We just had to get a couple of stops, and it was over with.”

Cleveland continues their four-game homestand on Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs, who the Cavs will play for the first time this season.

Home has been good for Cleveland of late. The Cavs are 3-1 in their last four games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, scoring at least 110 points and shooting over 50% from the field in every contest over that stretch.

Cavs’ Nance Jr.: ‘You’re not going to break us apart’

After winning four of five games before the All-Star break, it appeared that the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-25) had found their groove following their 10-game losing streak. However, since they have come back from the All-Star break, it has been a struggle for the Cavaliers.

On Tuesday night, Cleveland lost their third straight game after the break and their fourth overall as they fell to the Heat(22-18) on the road 113-98.

Miami had six players in double figures, including Jimmy Butler, who had a game-high 28 points. Collin Sexton led the Cavs with 21 points. Also, JaVale McGee chipped in 16 points off the bench for the Cavaliers.

Cleveland has been down by 20-plus in each of their last three games following the All-star break, so this team is really floundering. Larry Nance Jr., who scored 14 points on Monday night, is frustrated, but he believes the team must continue to fight through this rough patch.

“We just got a little adversity that we have to fight through,” Nance Jr. said after the game. “J.B.’s(Bickerstadd) frustrated, I’m frustrated; we all are, but one thing we just can’t do is quit on one another. We still believe it’s a very talented bunch.”

Despite the struggles, Nance Jr. thinks the team is staying together. 

“You’re not going to break us apart,” he said. “We got really good leadership on this team.”

Cleveland will begin a four-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Celtics, so maybe a little home cooking will help this team get back on track. However, with the lack of practice time due to the current NBA schedule, young teams like the Cavs will have to figure things out on the court, which makes turning things around very difficult.

Notes:

Cleveland was again without Kevin Love, who is still battling a calf injury. 

Cavs sign Quinn Cook to 10-day contract

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Quinn Cook to a 10-day contract, the team announced on Friday.

On Thursday, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed how Cook can help the team.

“One, is experience. Obviously, he has the ability and has played in big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “Two, I think he’s a veteran player who could help our young guards understand and grow as well, and three, he has the ability to score the basketball at a high clip, so I think he gives you another guy who can play make, another guy who can create, not only for himself, but for others on the court, and he brings a ton of intangibles off the court.”

Cook, 27, appeared in 16 games for the Los Angeles Lakers this season before being waived on February 24. A two-time NBA champion (2018, 2020), Cook has played in 181 career regular season games (29 starts) over five NBA seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and Lakers, holding averages of 6.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 14.1 minutes. He has also appeared in 40 postseason games, including six contests in last year’s title run with the Lakers.

Additionally, the six-year veteran was a member of Cleveland’s 2015 Training Camp roster and spent nearly two seasons with the Canton Charge (2015-16, 2016-17), the Cavaliers’ exclusively owned and operated NBA G League team. With the Charge, he was a two-time All-Star (2016, 2017) and the G League’s Rookie of the Year (2016).

Sexton on loss to Pacers: ‘We cut down on turnovers; hell, we win that game by at least 10, 12 points’

For most of the night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-22)were rolling against the Indiana Pacers. After Darius Garland made a driving layup plus the foul in the third quarter, Cleveland went up 77-60. However, Garland would leave the game with a groin injury, and Indiana(16-19) would outscore the Cavs by 20 points the rest of the way and win 114-111 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday night. 

With the loss, Cleveland’s four-game winning streak is snapped. Indiana was led by Malcolm Brogdon, who had a team-high 29 points, and T.J. McConnell, who had a triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists, and 10 steals off the bench. McConnell set an NBA record with nine steals(first half) in a half and became the first player since Mookie Blaylock(1998) to have a triple-double with points, assists, and steals.

After Garland went out of the game, Cleveland’s offense struggled, and they committed seven of the team’s season-high 26 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed the struggles on offense without Garland.

“Darius is a heck of a playmaker,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “He’s a guy teams have to worry about as far as scoring and also making his teammates better. He was one of our primary ball-handlers and playmakers. And, without him in the game, it just became a little more difficult… We missed Darius a lot down the stretch.”

According to Collin Sexton, who had a game-high 32 points to go along with 10 assists, if the team would have limited the turnovers, they would beat the Pacers on Wednesday night.

“We just gotta be better,” Sexton said. “We had too many turnovers tonight. We cut down on turnovers; hell, we win that game by at least 10, 12 points.

Despite the loss, Cleveland has to be excited by how they played in the last few games before the All-Star break, especially when you consider they had a 10-game losing streak. Now, as they go into the break, Cleveland has to hope they can get it healthy, which could give this team a shot at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

 

Cavs’ Garland: ‘We’re just growing every day’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(13-21) went into Philadelphia on Saturday night and may have gotten their best win of the season. Behind a combined 53 points from the backcourt of Collin Sexton(28) and Darius Garland(25), the Cavaliers defeated the 76ers 112-109 in OT. 

Philadelphia(22-12) is the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but for the second time this season, Cleveland was able to defeat Philadelphia. After losing ten straight, the Cavaliers have now won three in a row.

Garland, who added nine assists to go along with his 25 points on Saturday night, believes beating Philadelphia is a great step in the right direction. 

“It’s just another step in the right direction,” Garland said after the game. “We have a lot of growing to do; but beating the number one team in the East is really good. We just have to keep this going, keep the momentum going, and hopefully, we can carry it to All-Star break and after the All-Star break.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B, Bickerstaff felt defense was one of the keys for Cleveland in this victory. Cleveland held Philadelphia to a season-low 47 points in the first half.

“Anytime you get a tough win like this, it validates what you are capable of, and our guys I thought tonight were really good defensively against a high-powered offensive team,” Bickerstaff said. “Obviously, Embiid(42 points) is a handful, Ben Simmons(24 points), obviously, All-Star caliber player. I thought our guys did a really good job defensively.”

To beat a team like Philadelphia, you have to fight, and Cleveland showed that fight and grit, which Garland discussed after the game.

“We’re just growing every day,” he said. “Every opportunity we get, we’re going to take the opportunity to take the challenge. I think that’s one thing about our team; we are going to fight most of the time.”

Adversity can bring the best out of teams, and it appears the Cavaliers have grown from the adversity, and while losing ten consecutive games is never good, it might have been what the Cavs needed to turn things around.