Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘I thought there were definitely some calls that were missed’

The Cleveland Cavaliers did something that no team has done to the Brooklyn Nets, and that’s lead by double-digits at halftime.

However, they play two halves in the NBA, and in the second half, Brooklyn(13-5) outscored Cleveland 65-49 and defeated the Cavs 117-112 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night.

The Cavaliers(9-9) have now lost four straight.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Nets:

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-After missing three games due to illness, Cavs C Jarrett Allen had 20 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Allen played well against his former team and was active on both ends of the court. 

-Darius Garland had 16 of his 24 points in the first half, 11 assists, and five rebounds against the Nets, but he did not shoot that great from the field(9/27). However, he made everything go for the Cavs last night. For example, Cleveland was leading 73-64 with just under seven minutes left in the third when Garland, after taking a blow to the face from DeAndre’ Bembry, left the game. The Cavs were outscored 16-7 with Garland off the court, and ultimately, Brooklyn would have the momentum and take a two-point lead into the fourth.

-Lauri Markkanen made his return after missing nine games due to COVID. In his return, Markkanen scored 22 points and added eight rebounds. 

-Second Quarter: Cleveland got out fast against Brooklyn and played exceptionally well in the second quarter as they outscored Brooklyn 36-26. The Cavs shot 53% from the floor in the quarter and took an 11-point lead into halftime.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Third Quarter: See Garland at the top, but Cleveland was outscored 32-19 in the third. The Cavs shot 24% from the field, including 20% from three-point range. Furthermore, Brooklyn got hot in third and shot 57% from the floor. 

Fourth Quarter Garland: The third-year guard shot 1/10 from the floor in the fourth, including 0/3 from downtown. 

Referees?:  After the game, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff made it clear that he was not happy with the officiating on Monday night. With Cleveland trailing 106-105 late in the fourth, Ricky Rubio shot a three in the corner but was called for an offensive foul. It was a close call and one that the Cavs tried to challenge, but to no avail, as the referee did not see Bickerstaff calling for a timeout.

Patty Mills would hit a three for Brooklyn on the following possession to put the Nets up 109-105.

According to Cleveland.com, the Cavs were angry about a few calls, including two “phantom” calls on Kevin Durant jumpers — one early and one late. Constant uncalled contact on Darius Garland drives that led to just four free throws and Allen getting mugged in the paint.

“What’s right is right, and I thought there were definitely some calls that were missed, and that is wrong,” Bickerstaff said after the game.

Brooklyn has called for seven more fouls than Cleveland on Monday night.

Bottom Line:

The biggest stretch in this one is when Garland had to leave the game in the third. Cleveland lost their rhythm with him off the court. However, Brooklyn is an excellent team, and you’re going to have to be at your best to beat them. The Cavs are a work in progress, and obviously, this is a game they would have liked to have gotten, but learning how to win these close games consistently takes time. 

Back to Bickerstaff’s rant about the refs, he did the right thing, and every so often, even if it cost you money, you have to protect your players, and that is what he did on Monday night. 

Watch Bickerstaff’s rant below:

 

Best of the Rest:

-Cleveland had five guys in double figures, and all five players scored at least 15 points or more for the second time this season. Rubio had 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists off the bench.

-Kevin Durant led Brooklyn with 27 points; LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points off the bench, Patty Mills had 17 points, including a game-high five threes, and James Harden had 14 points and a game-high 14 assists. Brooklyn also had five players in double figures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Stephen Curry is a hell of a basketball player’

The Cavaliers were again without many of their key players on Thursday night against the Warriors. They were missing Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens. Also, they were playing the second half of a back-to-back after losing to Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

Cleveland took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter but was outscored 36-8 in the final period, and Golden State would defeat the Cavs 104-89 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavaliers(9-8) have now lost three straight while the Warriors(13-2) have won nine of 10.

Here is the Great, the Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Warriors.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cleveland had five players in double figures led by Darius Garland, who scored 18 of his team and season-high 25 points in the first half. In that first half, Garland was 7/12 from the field, including four threes.

-Kevin Love scored 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter off the bench. Love was on fire in third as he was 3/4 from the field, including 2/3 from downtown. This was his second straight solid performance after he missed eight games due to COVID.

-Dean Wade gave the Cavs 17 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in 40 minutes of action. He also made three threes.

-Ed Davis got his second consecutive start on Thursday night, and he did a great job on the glass. Davis, who started at center, had seven points, grabbed 13 of his game-high 14 rebounds in the first half, and added two blocks. The 13 rebounds in a half is a career-high for Davis.

Third Quarter: Cleveland had another extraordinary third quarter. After outscoring the Nets 32-19 in the third on Wednesday night, the Cavs outscored the Warriors 27-17 in the quarter. Golden State shot only 41.2% from the field, including 2/8 from three-point range. Love scored 11 points, and the Cavaliers took a 13-point lead into the fourth(81-68). However, the fourth quarter was a different story.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland led 81-68 entering the fourth, but the Warriors, mainly Steph Curry, woke up. The two-time MVP scored 20 of his game-high 40 points in the quarter, including four threes. Golden State went on a 17-0 run to start the fourth to take the lead. Cleveland went almost six minutes without a point.

The Warriors outscored the Cavs 36-8 in the final period. Cleveland went cold as they shot 2/14 from the field, including 0-7 from downtown.

Turnovers: The Cavaliers did not take care of the ball against the Warriors, and they finished with 20 turnovers, including seven by Garland.

Bottom Line:

For 36 minutes, it appeared the Cavs could pull off the upset, but the Warriors are one of the best teams in the league for a reason, and it showed. Despite the loss, Cleveland can hold their heads high. They battled two of the best teams in basketball, with 80% percent of their opening-day starting lineup in street clothes. Now, they get three days off, which will give players time to get healthy.

“Stephen Curry is a hell of a basketball player,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “The shots he was making weren’t easy.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland will continue their four-game homestand on Monday against the Brooklyn Nets.

Best of the Rest:

-Curry was 9/14 from three-point range. Draymond Green had four points and 14 assists; Nemanja Bjelica scored 14 points off the bench, and Andrew Wiggins added 12 points.

-Ricky Rubio had 10 points and five assists; Isaac Okoro chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

Listen Below as Garland and Wade react to the loss to Warriors:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We know where we can go’

Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be for real. On Sunday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks(6-4), the Cavaliers got a fantastic performance from Ricky Rubio, who had a double-double with a career-high 37 points to go along with 10 assists, as Cleveland defeated New York 126-109.

The Cavs(7-4) have now won four straight, including three consecutive wins on the road.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and Bottom Line of Cleveland’s big win in New York City.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Ricky Rubio was excellent last night. Rubio scored 26 of his career-high 37 points in the second half and dished out 10 assists off the bench. Rubio was 13/19 from the field, including career-high eight threes on 8/9 from downtown. Rubio, who started the third quarter for an injured Collin Sexton, was 4/4 from downtown in the third quarter and scored 12 points, and he added 14 more points in the fourth. 

According to StatMuse, Rubio is the first player in NBA history with 30-plus points, 10-plus assists, eight-plus threes in a game off the bench.

-Rookie Evan Mobley was also excellent last night. In his debut at MSG, Mobley had a career-high 26 PTS (11-15 FG, 2-4 3FG), nine rebounds, five assists, a steal, and a block. According to the Cavs, he is the first rookie to record 26-plus points, nine-plus rebounds, five-plus assists, and 73% from the field in a single game since Blake Griffin.

-Jarrett Allen is earning all his money and then some. He scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds. Allen was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the first time in his career. During the Cavs’  winning streak, Allen is averaging 20.5 points on .633 shooting from the field, an NBA-best 16.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 37.0 minutes per contest. He was the only player in the NBA to average at least 20.0 points and 15.0 rebounds last week and had the highest field goal percentage among any NBA player who averaged 20 points or more.

-Darius Garland added 15 points(4/5 3PT) and dished out five assists.

-Third Quarter: Cleveland trailed 57-56 at halftime. However, they outscored New York 33 to 18 in the third quarter. The Cavaliers shot 57% from the field, including (6/7)85% from downtown. They held the Knicks to 32% shooting, including(1/9) 11% from three-point range. The Cavs took an 89-75 lead into the fourth.

Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton left in the second quarter with a knee injury, and on Monday, it was revealed that he had a meniscus tear in his left knee. At this point, he will undergo an additional evaluation, after which time his status will be updated.

-Cleveland had 17 turnovers on Sunday night. That number is too high, but they can worry about that another night.

Bottom Line:

The Cavaliers have beaten some good teams this season on the road, including wins over the Knicks, Nuggets, Raptors, and Clippers, which is impressive. Now, they have an opportunity to rack up some more wins as eight of their next nine games are at home. 

Hopefully, going forward, they can get Kevin Love(Health and Safety Protocols), Lauri Markkanen(Health and Safety Protocols), and Isaac Okoro(hamstring) back soon.

“We know where we can go,” Bickerstaff said. “There’s a depth to this team that we know we can get to. That’s all about the scrap. That’s how we turn it up.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Wednesday night against the Wizards.

Best of the Rest:

On Sunday night, the Knicks had six players in double figures led by Julius Randle, who scored 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists; Derrick Rose added 17 points and five assists.

Listen below as Mobley, Allen, and Rubio react to Cleveland’s win over the Knicks:

The Great, The Not so Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ loss to Hornets

The Cleveland Cavaliers(0-2) fell to the Charlotte Hornets(2-0) 123-112 in their home-opener at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday night. 

Charlotte’s Miles Bridges had 30 points, Kelly Oubre scored 25 points off the bench, Gordon Hayward had 18 points and nine assists, and LaMelo Ball added 17 and six assists.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton had a hot shooting night for Cleveland. “Young Bull” had a game-high 33 points on 13/21 shooting from the field. 

-In his second game as a pro, Evan Mobley had another solid performance with 13 points, five rebounds, and two blocks.

-Ricky Rubio had his second straight double-double as he got the start for an injured Darius Garland(ankle). Rubio had 15 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes. 

-Kevin Love had six points and a team-high 11 rebounds off the bench in 24 minutes of action.

-Jarrett Allen’s incredible dunk on Mason Plumlee in the second dunk. That was nasty!

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Turnovers: Cleveland has 19 turnovers which led to 34 Hornets’ points. Rubio had six turnovers, including four in the fourth quarter. Rubio took the blame for the loss.

“It was all on me,” he said postgame. “It was bad passes. There’s nothing to blame on them. It was all on me and I take that blame and I take this loss.”

-Fourth-quarter: Cleveland entered the fourth quarter trailing 90-89. However, the Hornets would outscore the Cavaliers 33-23 in the quarter. Charlotte started the fourth on a 19-2 run and pushed the lead to as much as 18 points. In the opener against Memphis, the Grizzlies started the fourth on a 10-0 run, so Cleveland has to fix their fourth-quarter woes

-Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded again for the second straight game(46-36). Allen has to do a better job on the glass. Last season, he averaged a double-double for the first time in his career. Against Memphis, he only had four rebounds, and on Friday night, he again, had four rebounds. In addition, Charlotte had 16 second-chance points, while Cleveland only had six.

Rebounding is a part of defense because it ends the possession. Cleveland must improve in that area. 

-Defense: Against Memphis, Cleveland gave up 70 points in the paint and allowed 132 points. On Friday night against the Hornets, they gave up 58 points in the paint and allowed Charlotte to shoot 53% from the field. 

Cleveland has to protect their paint!

Browns DE Myles Garrett was in the building on Friday night, and Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff jokingly said the following about Garrett after the game:

“There were a few moments where I wish he would have protected the paint for us,” Bickerstaff said.

Bottom Line:

It was going to be tough to beat the Hornets without Garland, and hopefully, they can get him back tomorrow against Atlanta. The Cavaliers are a work in progress. Things might get worse before they get better. However, they have to find a way to take care of the basketball and be better on the defensive end.

What’s next:

Cleveland hosts the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. Atlanta routed the Mavericks 113-87 in their season and home opener on Thursday night.

Watch as Sexton and Rubio discuss the loss to the Hornets:

Cavaliers will be better this season, but making the playoffs could be a tall task

The Cleveland Cavaliers begin their 52nd season on Wednesday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies. Cleveland is hoping to make the playoffs this season, and the last time that happened without LeBron James was the 1997-98 season. 

Last season, Cleveland won 22 games, and that was in a 72-game season. This season, they will play a full 82-game schedule, so there is a good chance they will win more than 22 games.

The Cavaliers have a very young team. The oldest player in their expectant starting lineup of Darius Garland(21), Collin Sexton(22), Isaac Okoro(20), Evan Mobley(20), and Jarrett Allen(23) is 23. In fact, Okoro and Mobley are not even 21, so there could be some growing pains. The Cavaliers will have to figure out if the undersized backcourt of Garland(6-1) and Sexton(6-1) can work. The two can work on offense. Sexton is a gifted scorer((24.5 PPG last season), Garland is a decent shooter, and he came on strong last season. Garland, who spent time with the U.S. National team this summer, could take that next step after having career-highs in points(17.4) and assists(6.1) per game last season.

However, defensively, Cleveland struggled. They were 17th in points allowed, which is not awful, but they allowed teams to shoot 48% from the field, which was 29th in the NBA. Maybe, things could get better defensively with Allen(1.4 BPG last season) and Mobley(1.6 BPG led all rookies in preseason) in the lineup. 

Regarding Mobley, the number three overall pick, he has shown flashes in the preseason, but Cleveland will need him to be very good if they want to make the playoffs. Allen should be solid after signing a five-year, $100 million deal in the offseason. Allen, who Cleveland acquired from the Nets in January, averaged a double-double last season (12.8 PPG and 10.0 RPG) for the first time in his career. Okoro, the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft, came on strong near the end of last season as he scored in double-digits in 12 of the final 13 games. However, Cleveland has to find a way to integrate him into the offense.

The Cavaliers will have a better bench this season. The addition of Ricky Rubio helps the second unit and the team. Rubio is a professional point guard, and there will be many times where he will close games for Cleveland. In addition, Kevin Love seems to be buying into his role with Cleveland; if Love(played in only 25 games last season due to calf injury) is healthy, which was an issue last season, he can still knock down shots and give this team good minutes. Also, Cleveland acquired Lauri Markkanen in a sign and trade from the Bulls in a three-team deal that sent Larry Nance Jr. to Portland. Markkanen can score the basketball and averaged a career-high 18.7 PPG in his second season in the league. Markkanen was the only 7-footer in the NBA last season to make 100+ three-pointers (118). He should be instant offense off the bench for Cleveland. The Cavs will have a lot of size this season. They can and will feature a lineup, at times, with three 7-footers in Markkanen, Allen, and Mobley, so that should be interesting. 

Getting to the playoffs won’t be easy for Cleveland. The Eastern Conference is expected to be very good this season. The top six teams from last season, the 76ers, Nets, Bucks, Knicks, Hawks, and Heat, could be better or close to what they were last season. In addition, the last four teams to make the playoff, the Celtics, Wizards, Pacers, and Hornets, could be around the same or better as well. Furthermore, the Chicago Bulls, who added Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, could be a high-seed in the East.

For Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to keep his job, Cleveland will have to be better, which they should be. However, better will probably not mean the playoffs. Cleveland does not defend or score well enough for that to happen. But, if Sexton, who the team did not extend before Monday’s deadline, can play with a chip on his shoulder and be better, if Garland takes that next step, if Markkanen shows the league that he can play, if Allen continues to be steady, if Mobley plays like a Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, if Okoro gets better in year two, if Love stays healthy and plays well; maybe Cleveland will get into the play-in tournament.

However, don’t bet on it. Expect this team to win between 25-30 games this season. 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Our guys will get better, and we will improve’

The Cleveland Cavaliers had their preseason debut on Tuesday night in Chicago against the Bulls. Fortunately for Cleveland, this game does not count. Chicago led by as many as 48 points and would defeat Cleveland 131-95.

The Cavaliers had 15 turnovers in the first half and 20 in total. The new-look Bulls, who added Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan in the offseason, scored 69 points in the first half and led by 23 points at halftime.

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 25 points. Collin Sexton’s 14 points led Cleveland, and Lauri Markkanen added 13 points off the bench in his return to Chicago.

Bickerstaff attributed a lot of the Cavaliers’ issues to youth. The oldest player in Cleveland’s starting lineup on Tuesday was 23(Jarrett Allen).

“Not making excuses, but we got a lot of young basketball players that are still trying to figure it out,” Bickerstaff said. “Our guys will get better, and we will improve.”

The Cavs struggled in all facets of the game on Tuesday night, but there were some positives. Backup point guard Ricky Rubio, who started the second half, played well and is an upgrade over last season’s backups at the point guard spot. Rubio had 10 points and six assists in 20 minutes of action. Also, rookie Evan Mobley was solid in his debut. He added 10 points and eight rebounds. 

You never like to overreact off of any preseason game, especially the first one, but the Bulls look like they have put together a team that can contend in the East while the Cavs looked like a team that is headed to the lottery again. However, there’s a lot of basketball to be played.

We’ll see how the Cavs bounce back against the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

Watch below as Mobley and Sexton react to Cleveland’s loss to Chicago on Tuesday night:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff was happy with team’s effort in loss to Pacers

The Cleveland Cavaliers(21-48) lost again on Monday night as they fell to the Pacers(32-36) 111-102 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

Cleveland has now lost a season-high 11 straight and has dropped 14 of their last 15 games.

Domantas Sabonis had 21 points and 20 rebounds for Indiana, and Kelani Martin scored a career-high 25 points off the bench.

The Cavaliers’ Isaac Okoro had 20 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and Dean Wade had 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

Cleveland had only nine players available on Monday night, and was without Kevin Love, Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr., and six others, but they fought in this game. The Cavaliers led 60-53 at halftime. However, Indiana would take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Following an Okoro running layup that tied the game at 91 midway through the fourth quarter, Indiana went on a 14-4 run to take complete control of the game. 

While the Cavs lost their 11th straight, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was pleased with the team’s fight against the Pacers.

“They laid it on the line tonight,” Bickerstaff said. “They gave us everything they had tonight. We just came up a little short.”

After the game, some of the talk was about assistant Lindsay Gottlieb, who will be leaving the team to become the head coach for the USC women’s basketball team. 

Collin Sexton, who had 25 points, eight assists, and five rebounds on Monday night, had a great relationship with Gottlieb and really enjoyed the advice she gave him.

“She always going to give me the real advice and the true advice that I need,” Sexton said about Gottlieb. “At the end of the day, she’s not going to sugarcoat anything. if she feels like I’m not playing up to my potential, she’ll let me know.”

Cleveland will complete their three-game homestand on Wednesday night when they host the Celtics. The Cavaliers will finish their season on the road when they battle the Wizards on Friday and Brooklyn on Sunday.

Cavs’ Lindsay Gottlieb headed to USC

Cavs assistant Lindsay Gottlieb is going back to the college game. Gottlieb will be the new head coach for the USC women’s basketball team, it was announced on Monday.

Gottlieb, 43, will finish out the season for Cleveland, which ends on Sunday night in Brooklyn against the Nets.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Gottlieb got a six-year deal at USC.

Gottlieb, who was hired as an assistant by then Cavs head coach John Beilein in 2019, was the first NCAA women’s head coach to be hired by an NBA team. Before coming to Cleveland, Gottlieb was the head women’s basketball coach at Cal. After Beilein’s departure, Gottlieb continued as an assistant under J.B Bickerstaff.

On Monday, both Gottlieb and Cavaliers GM Koby Altman released statements:

Gottlieb:

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers for the last two years. This has truly been a basketball dream come true for me to work not only in the NBA, but hand-in-hand with this incredible coaching staff that has taught me so much. I’d especially like to thank Koby Altman and J.B. Bickerstaff for believing in me and providing an inclusive environment to enhance my coaching acumen. This is a very special group of players who have a tremendous amount of talent and work ethic, and it was an honor to work and develop relationships with them as well. The vision of this organization is what attracted me to Cleveland, and I look forward to seeing the continued development of this team and all that these guys can become in the future.” 

“This was a very difficult decision and even tougher to say goodbye, but the opportunity at USC was something I could not let pass. What I see is a program steeped in tradition with a history of excellence and one of the nation’s strongest brands. I look forward to becoming part of that legacy and helping bring the Women of Troy back to national prominence.”

Altman:

“Lindsay Gottlieb has been a tremendous asset to this organization since joining us two seasons ago, and I couldn’t be more excited for this incredible opportunity ahead of her at the University of Southern California. Lindsay brought an extensive coaching and culture-building background to Cleveland that fit seamlessly with the existing direction in place for this team. What really stands out about her time with the Cavaliers was how well she was able to communicate with our players, while demonstrating different perspectives on a daily basis that helped change the outlook of the game for many of our guys. We were fortunate that she was willing to leave her position at Cal to join us, and we are not surprised that she has remained a sought after Head Coach at the highest level of women’s college basketball. Lindsay will always be part of the Cavaliers family and we wish her, along with her husband Patrick and son Jordan, the very best as they embark on this new journey back in California and at USC.”

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Garland: ‘He’s the spirit of what we do’

Injuries have been a big issue for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. At times, key players, including Kevin Love and Larry Nance jr. have missed significant time due to injuries, and on Friday night against the Wizards, Cleveland was missing six players, but they did get their leading scorer in Collin Sexton back, who missed the last three games with a concussion. 

These two teams met last Sunday in Washington, and the Wizards defeated the Cavs 119-110.

On Friday night, Cleveland(21-42) competed in the first half against Washington(29-34) and trailed 58-52 at the break, but things went south when their point guard Darius Garland left the game early in the third quarter and did not return after rolling his ankle.  Following Garland’s exit, Cleveland was outscored 33-16 in the quarter, and a six-point lead turned into a 23-point lead at the end of three for Washington, and ultimately, the Wizards would defeat the Cavaliers 122-93 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Wizards have won two straight and 10 of their last 11 games, while the Cavs have dropped five consecutive games.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 19 points, and Russell Westbrook had his NBA record-setting 14th triple-double in the month of April with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Sexton had a game-high 22 points for Cleveland.

Garland is Cleveland’s floor general, and without him, Cleveland’s offense sputtered, which Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff discussed after the game.

“Darius is our lead guard,” he said. And it’s disappointing, obviously, for him having the injury, but he’s our leader; he’s the spirit of what we do, and he was playing at an extremely high level. It’s sad; it’s disappointing that the injury happened at this point, or at any point because his confidence was growing. He’s playing so well. The best month of his career by far… Obviously, him not being there hurt us a lot.”

Also, Love, who had 10 rebounds on Friday night, did not take a shot and ended the game with zero points in 22 minutes. According to Bickerstaff, Cleveland has to keep Love involved on the offensive end of the floor.

“I think he’s(Love) an important piece of what we do on that end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “So, we gotta find ways to get him involved, find ways to get him shots.”

At this point, the Cavaliers are going through the motions. They are not a healthy team, and they are not playing good basketball right now. However, this season was not about winning, it was about the development of young talent, and Cleveland must continue to do that in the final nine games of the season. 

The Cavaliers continue their five-game homestand on Saturday night against the Miami Heat.

 

Despite the loss, Cavs’ Bickerstaff happy with team’s effort against Magic

For three quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers(21-41) were getting blown out by the Orlando Magic(19-43) on Wednesday night. Cleveland trailed 82-61 entering the fourth quarter.

Then, they finally woke.

The Cavaliers scored 43 points in the fourth quarter, and at one point, the lead swelled to 23 points in the final quarter, but Cleveland implemented a full-court press, which sped up the Magic, forced turnovers, and got them back into the game. Cleveland went on a 41-18 run to tie the score at 104 after a Kevin Love three with just over a minute left in the game. However, Orlando’s Cole Anthony would score four of the team’s final five points as the Magic would snap their six-game losing streak and defeat Cleveland 109-104 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cavs’ Darius Garland had 25 points, 10 assists, four steals, and Jarrett Allen added 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Gary Harris paced the Magic with 19 points, and Anthony had 18 points.

The Cavs woke up, but it was too little, too late. Cleveland was again down seven players, including Collin Sexton(concussion) and Larry Nance Jr.(thumb). Despite the loss, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the fight Cleveland showed against Orlando.

‘Down bodies, down points, and they still found a way to come out and give us all they had in the fourth quarter when they all were exhausted,” Bickerstaff said. “No moral victories, but again, it speaks to the character of our guys.”

Cleveland picked up the intensity on defense, and they used a full-court press, which was very effective. The Cavaliers forced six Magic turnovers, which led to 12 points, and after the game, Bickerstaff explained why he went to the press.

“We needed to find some sort of a spark,” he said. “And we went to that full-court press, and obviously, it gave us a lift.”

With 10 games left, Cleveland is pretty much playing for pride at this point, and they showed a lot of that against Orlando. The Cavaliers hope to snap their four-game losing streak on Friday night against the Wizards.

Notes:

-On Wednesday, Cleveland announced that they have signed G Jeremiah Martin to a two-way contract. The 24-year-old Martin spent the 2020-21 NBA G League season with the Long Island Nets, playing in 15 games (all starts) and averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.4 steals in 31.8 minutes. He was previously a two-way player with the Brooklyn Nets during the 2019-20 season.

-Taurean Prince underwent left ankle arthroscopic surgery, the team announced on Wednesday. No word on when he will return, but Prince is probably out for the season.