During the Cavaliers’ 10-game losing streak, Cleveland has gone up against playoff teams and teams that were just better than them. However, on Sunday night, Cleveland had a game that appeared to be very winnable on paper. The Oklahoma City Thunder(12-18) were in town riding a three-game losing streak, but OKC got a much-needed victory on this night.
The Thunder led by as many 20 points against Cleveland(10-21) and would defeat the Cavaliers 117-101 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a game-high 31 points as the Thunder had six players in double-figures on Sunday night. Collin Sexton had a team-high 27 points for Cleveland.
“I thought it was lost in the physicality department,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “Too often, they went one-on-one situations and broke us down and got into the paint… We gotta do a better job competing on the ball. We gotta do a better job of keeping our man in front of us.”
Cavs C Jarrett Allen, who had 26 points(11-11 from the field) and 17 rebounds against OKC, looked at this game as an opportunity to break the losing streak.
“We’re on a 10-game losing streak now,” Allen said. “These are one of the nights where you look across and say, ‘Yeah, “I can guard this man; we can beat this team. We can break this streak.'”
Allen believes the Cavaliers have to stay positive, and he thinks Cleveland can turn things around.
“I think we are looking too down on ourselves,” he said. “Things like this happen. Teams go on losing streaks. I’ve been on losing streaks, eight in a row, and then we came back and won eight in a row. It’s easy to look inward and be like, ‘Man, can we really do this?’ It’s the NBA. We’re all in this place for a reason. We all know how to play basketball; we all know how to play defense, all the fundamentals. If we get back to that, we can be back on top.”
This was a bad loss for the Cavs and probably the worst loss of this 10-game losing streak. It does not help that they are playing without a viable power forward with Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. both out. However, this is the roster that they have right now, and they have to make a commitment on the defensive end if they want to turn it around. They made that commitment earlier in the season, and it led to success. Now, that defensive commitment is gone.
The road to respectability in the NBA is long, and the Cavs continue to travel that long, hard road.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Allen became the first player in Cavaliers history to tally at least 25-plus points and 15-plus rebounds while having a perfect field goal percentage in a single game.
The Cavaliers(10-20) finally were able to get back home after an 0-5 west coast trip, but unfortunately for them, it did not matter. The Cavs fell to the Denver Nuggets 120-103 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Cleveland has now lost nine straight games.
Friday’s win for Denver(16-13) was all about Jamal Murray, who shot 21-25 from the field, including 8-10 from three-point range to score a regular-season career-high 50 points. According to the Denver Nuggets, Murray became the first player in NBA history to have 50-plus points, 8-plus threes, and 80-plus field goal percentage in a single game in NBA history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Murray also became the first player to score 50 points without a one free throw attempt.
“I was just making my shots,” Murray said after the game. “It’s kind of cool to make history. It’s a cool stat.”
Cavaliers Jarrett Allen, who scored 20 points and 10 rebounds on Friday night, added about Murray: “It was like we were back in the bubble. He only missed only four shots, and one of them was from half-court… Kudos to him for being locked in and just going crazy on us.”
Cleveland had no answers for Murray, and according to their head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Murray just had one of the nights.
“He made some difficult shots,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. Contested, challenged shots. Guys in this league have nights like this, and we seen this from him before.”
The last time these two teams played, Cleveland was blown out 133-95, but despite Murray’s play on Friday night, the Cavaliers battled, which pleased Bickerstaff.
“I thought we competed. We made some mistakes, obviously,” Bickerstaff said. “But, I did think we competed for the majority of the night, so that’s a step in the right direction.”
Cleveland showed fight on Friday night and played hard throughout the whole game, but sometimes you run into teams and players that are rolling, and Murray just had one of those nights. They have three games left on their four-game homestand, and they get back at it on Sunday night against the Thunder.
Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double for Denver on Friday night with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Collin Sexton led the way for the Cavs with 23 points.