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’ Love: ‘I do feel like we’re playing a good brand of basketball now’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(19-32) finished off their three-game road trip the right way as they routed the OKC Thunder(20-32) 129-102 0n Thursday night . Cleveland’s 27-point win was their largest margin of victory this season, and the team finished 2-1 on this road trip.

With Thursday’s 27-point win and their 125-101 victory over San Antonio on Monday, Cleveland has won two straight games by 20 points or more on the road for the first time since April 2017 and the second time in franchise history.

Cleveland got another big-time effort from its backcourt of Collin Sexton(27 points) and Darius Garland(21 points), who combined for 48 points, and Taurean Prince, who scored 22 points off the bench. The Cavaliers had six players in double figures, including all five starters.

The Cavs had excellent ball movement on Thursday night and finished the game with 35 assists on 48 made field goals, led by seven assists from reserve Matthew Dellavedova.

“35 assists on 48 field goals,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “That’s ball movement, that execution, that’s unselfish play.”

Kevin Love, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds on Thursday night, which was his second double-double in three games, likes how the Cavs are playing right now.

“I always talk about trending in the right direction, but I do feel like we’re playing a good brand of basketball now,” Love said. “Just getting Larry(Nance Jr.) back and JA(Jarrett Allen). More bodies out there, more guys that can do different things. It’s going to be a huge luxury for us.”

Cleveland is playing a good brand of basketball right now. Garland is playing with confidence, Love is starting to look like himself, and Sexton continues to score the basketball at a high level, and hopefully, Nance Jr. and Allen will return soon.

With 21 games left, they will have to finish strong if they want to participate in the Play-in Tournament. Currently, they are three games behind the Bulls for the 10th and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and 1/2 game behind the Toronto Raptors, who they host on Saturday night. Cleveland has two games left against the Bulls, so they have shot.

It’s now or never for the Cavs, and based on what we saw on this three-game road trip, maybe they do have a run in them.

 

 

 

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’ Bickerstaff on loss to Heat: ‘I thought it was a tale of two halves’

It was a tale of two halves for the Cleveland Cavaliers(17-32) in Miami on Saturday night. Cleveland had a hard time stopping the Heat(26-24) in the first half. Miami scored 67 points and shot 58% from the field, including 47%(10-21) from three-point range, and ultimately, they led 67-54 at halftime.

Cleveland tightened the screws in the third quarter, which has been an Achilles heel for this team all season long. However, on Saturday night, they came out and defended well. They held the Heat to 17 points in the quarter, including 33% from the field. Unfortunately, Cleveland only scored 19 points in that quarter, and they would eventually fall on the road 115-101.

The Cavaliers have now lost 20 straight games in Miami and have not won there since 2010. 

Miami had seven guys in double figures led by Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, who had 18 points apiece. Adebayo also added 11 rebounds. For Cleveland, Collin Sexton had a game-high 26 points, Taurean Prince had a season-best 19 points off the bench, and rookie Isaac Okoro finished with a career-high 17 points. 

While the Cavaliers lost their fifth straight game and six of their last seven, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with how the team played in the second half, but he knows they have to play a complete game to beat the Heat.

“I thought it was a tale of two halves,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we were really good in the second half. We come out and hold this team to 17 points; I thought we did a phenomenal job in that second half. I thought our scrap and our grit was much better in the second half. Again, you’re playing a caliber of team like this with the weapons they have. You gotta play it for 48.”

Late in the fourth, frustration started to boil over for the Cavaliers. Darius Garland tried to take a charge on Trevor Ariza, but he was called for a blocking foul. An angry Garland punched the ball and was assessed a technical foul, which led to his ejection.

Bickerstaff took issue with the ejection.

“They decided to throw him out on one technical, which I completely disagree with,” Bickerstaff said. “There’s no justification for throwing him out of the game on one technical.”

Cleveland will try to snap their five-game losing streak when they head to San Antonio to battle the Spurs. The Cavaliers will complete their three-game road trip against the Thunder on Thursday night.

Notes:

Kevin Love posted his 1st double-double of the season with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one block in 23 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 win over Bulls; ‘We had a bunch of guys who contributed tonight’

The shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers(17-27) went into Chicago(19-24) to battle the Bulls on Wednesday night, and while they did not have their leading scorer Collin Sexton, who was out due to a sore hamstring, they did have Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr., and Jarrett Allen, who all did their part.

Cleveland had five guys in double figures against the Bulls. Led by Garland, who had 22 points and nine assists, Nance Jr. chipped in with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists, and Allen contributed 19 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks as the Cavs defeated the Bulls on the road 103-94. 

Without Sexton, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff knew he needed everybody else to step up, and they did.

“Our guys did a heck of a job,” Bickerstaff said. “It wasn’t going to be one person that fills that void. It was going to have to be a bunch of different people that step up. You look up and down our boxscore; we had five guys in double figures…We had a bunch of guys who contributed tonight.”

Defensively, Cleveland got a big effort from rookie Isaac Okoro, who held Chicago’s leading scorer Zach LaVine to 8-20 shooting from the field. LaVine did have 22 points, but only four points in the second half. The Cavs defense played well as a whole and held the Bulls to 17 points in the third quarter, which helped Cleveland take a 78-72 lead into the fourth quarter.

Now, for Cleveland, their attention turns to the trade deadline, which is Thursday at 3 P.M. ET. Cavaliers reserve center JaVale McGee did not play on Wednesday night. When asked why McGee did not play against Chicago, Bickerstaff said the following:

“We are concentrating on the guys that were playing tonight,” he said. “We’ll focus on that, and I let (Cavs GM)Koby(Altman) answer any of those other questions.”

The 33-year-old McGee will probably be on the move, but just like every year near the trade deadline, there are usually more rumors than actual deals, but we’ll see what happens with McGee.

Also, we’ll see what happens with Andre Drummond, who has not played since mid-February as the team looked to trade the two-time All-Star. Will he get dealt, or will Cleveland buy him out?

We’ll find out soon enough.

 Notes:

-Cavs continue their four-game road trip on Friday night against the Lakers.

-With the win against Chicago on Wednesday night, Cleveland moved to 2.5 games behind the Bulls for the 10th and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavs’ McGee not bothered by hearing his name in trade talks

On Sunday night, in their win over the Raptors, Cleveland(16-27) got a big-time performance out of Collin Sexton, who scored 23 of his 36 points in the second half. However, Monday night against the visiting Sacramento Kings was a different story for Sexton and the Cavaliers. 

Sexton was held to 15 points on Monday night, and behind De’Aaron Fox’s 30 points and rookie Tyrese Haliburton’s career-high 28 points, Sacramento(18-25) defeated the Cavaliers 119-105.

Cleveland went 2-2 on their four-game homestand and get ready to embark on a four-game road trip starting on Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls.

According to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team does need Sexton to score at a high level to be successful, but they also need to play better defense. Cleveland allowed the Kings to shoot 54% from the field, including 13-30 from three-point range.

There’s no doubt about it. We need Collin to score, for sure,” Bickerstaff said. “Again, we gave up 119. To me, that was the bigger issue than our offense.” 

Cleveland did look sluggish in the second game of a back-to-back, and while Bickerstaff did not blame the loss on the back-to-back, he did notice that the team did not have enough energy on Monday night.

“Whatever the reason was, we just didn’t have that fight, that spark, that energy,” he said. “We tried, and I give our guys credit for trying, but we just couldn’t put it together consistently.”

Cleveland’s bright spot was the play of reserve center JaVale McGee, who scored a season and team-high 18 points and collected a team-high tying nine rebounds against the Kings. 

“I thought JaVale gave us a nice lift off the bench with the group he was out there with,” Bickerstaff said.

McGee, 33, could be on the move before Thursday’s trade deadline, but according to the 12-year veteran, hearing his name in trade rumors does not bother him. 

“It’s definitely hard when you’re in trade talks as a younger player, I feel like,” he said. “But as an older player, as myself, I’ve been in trade talks plenty of years, plenty of times, so I’ve figured how to block it out and play my game.” 

McGee, who was acquired from the Lakers back in November, could help a contending team, and you almost hope he gets that opportunity. However, he’s been one of the veteran leaders for this team, and as a three-time champion, he can help these young Cavs learn how to win. It should be interesting to see if McGee will be in Cleveland after the deadline.  

  

 

Cavs’ Garland: ‘We just gotta get out of that little All-Star break funk’

For three quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-24) played some fairly decent basketball and trailed by three points entering the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks(19-20) on Sunday night. 

However, there are four quarters in a game, and the Cavaliers were outscored by 15 points in the final period and would fall to the Hawks on the road 100-82.

Atlanta’s John Collins had a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, Danilo Gallinari poured in 20 points, and Nathan Knight added 16 points off the bench. Collin Sexton led the way for Cleveland with 15 points.

Before the start of the fourth quarter, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff thought his team needed to fight hard to get the win on Sunday night, which did not happen.

“We talked about it at the third quarter break,” Bickerstaff said. “The team that found that scrap and that grit was going to be the team that won the game, and I thought they out-scrapped us in the fourth quarter, for sure.”

Cleveland had won four out of five games before the break. According to Bickerstaff, the Cavaliers, who have lost two straight after the All-Star break, have to get their rhythm back.

“We’ve lost our rhythm, clearly over the break,” he said. “Some of the grit and some of the toughness that we were playing with before the break, we need to rediscover here quickly because I thought there were so many moments where we were outplayed and outworked.”

Darius Garland, who made his return after missing the last two games due to a groin injury, and scored 11 points for Cleveland, added: “We just gotta get out of that little All-Star break funk.”

Before the break, Cleveland seemed to have found a rhythm with Dean Wade as the starter at power forward. After the break, with Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr’s return, the team has lost its rhythm. Unfortunately, the break came at the wrong team for this team, and trying to integrate Love and Nance Jr. has been an issue for Cleveland, but they have to find their way, and it does not get any easier as they travel to Miami to battle the Heat on Tuesday night, who have won 10 of their last 11, including four straight.

Notes:

Love played in his second game with the team on Sunday after missing 33 games with a calf injury but left after two minutes of action. According to the team, Love didn’t feel right after a couple of trips down the floor and didn’t want to risk a setback.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Garland: ‘I think when he’s absent, you can see the impact that it has’

On Friday night, the Cavaliers(14-23) got some help back with the return of Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. against the New Orleans Pelicans16-22). However, they were without point guard Darius Garland, and without the second-year point guard, the offense struggled, and Cleveland was routed by the Pelicans 116-82 at Smoothie King Center. 

Brandon Ingram scored a game-high 28 points, while Zion Williamson added 22 points for the Pelicans. Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 19 points.

Without Garland, Cleveland was held to nine points in the third quarter and shot just 34% from the field and 22 percent from three-point range. Garland missed Friday’s game due to a groin injury he suffered against the Pacers before the break. In the last two games without Garland in the lineup, the Cavaliers have been outscored by 54 points(left in third quarter against Pacers).  He is putting up career highs in PPG (16.1), RPG (2.2), APG (5.9), SPG (1.18), MPG (32.9), FG% (.440), and 3FG% (.384). He also has three double-doubles and more 20-PT games this season (8) than last season (6), so not having that in your lineup is a big blow, which Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed after the game.

“Darius is a really good player, to be honest with you,” Bickerstaff said. “What he does is he has an understanding of how to include everyone and also how to find his and be a threat. He does a great job of organizing us. He makes everybody else’s job easier, and I think when he’s absent, you can see the impact that it has.”

For Cleveland, getting Love back on the floor was a welcomed sight for this team. The five-time All-Star missed 33 games due to a right calf strain. The 32-year-old Love, who is on a minutes restriction, scored four points in 10 minutes of action. 

“Just happy more than anything to be out there,” Love said. “I could have shot 0 for 50, and I would have been fine with it. Just playing basketball is what I love to do. It’s so much a part of me, so having it taken away from me last year and then being super unlucky with the injury is just more than anything; really, really happy to be back out there. Things will progress. It will probably take me a couple of weeks, maybe, to feel like myself.”

Hopefully, for Cleveland, Love can progress and become a factor for this team going forward, or possibly be a guy who could be a trade piece before the March 25 trade deadline.

Cleveland gets back at it on Sunday as they travel to Atlanta to battle the Hawks(7:30 ET).

Notes:

Nance Jr. scored 11 points in 28 minutes on Friday night. Nance Jr. returned after missing 12 games with a left hand fracture.

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.