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).
Nance Jr. scored 11 points in 28 minutes on Friday night. Nance Jr. returned after missing 12 games with a left hand fracture.
Throughout the 2020 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers(4-3) have dealt with their share of adversity. Injuries have hit this team hard in this young season, including Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro, who have missed five games with injuries and are still out.
The injuries hit the team on Monday night in Orlando against the Magic(5-2). Darius Garland missed his first game of the season with a shoulder injury, and in the first quarter, Dante Exum went down with an apparent lower leg injury. Cleveland was depleted in this game, and it showed. The Cavaliers were routed by the Magic 103-83.
The Magic’s Aaron Gordon scored 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Nikola Vucevic chipped in with 23 points. Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 24 points.
“It’s tough,” Bickerstaff said. “I think our guys played hard. They tried to do what we asked them to do, but with so many guys out of position tonight. It’s hard to organize guys, especially when you’re losing primary ball-handlers.
Cleveland does not have the bodies right now, but according to Bickerstaff, they have to find a way to figure it out.
“It is what it is, and we just gotta figure it out; we are down bodies,” he said. “We talked about adversity a few games back. I think this is the epitome of it, so we just gotta figure it out, and we gotta get the most out of these opportunities that we have.”
Cleveland is off to a surprising start, but as the injuries continue to mount, Bickerstaff is right; they have to figure it out, which won’t be easy. The figuring out starts on Wednesday against the Magic.
-Collin Sexton has tied the Cavaliers record for consecutive 20-point games to start the season with 7 (LeBron James, 2004-05). Sexton, who has also put up 20+ points in 12 straight contests going back to 2019-20, is the only player in the NBA this season with at least 25.0 PPG, .500 FG%, and .500 3FG%.
-After Wednesday’s game against the Magic, they travel to Memphis on Thursday and finish up their six-game road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Love have signed a new multi-year contract extension Cavs General Manager Koby Altman announced today. According to ESPN, it’s a four-year, $120 million contract extension that tops out his overall deal at five years, $145 million,
“We are very excited to announce Kevin’s long-term commitment to the Cavaliers and Cleveland. This quickly became a partnership the second we began these discussions. Collaboration and winning matter greatly to Kevin and that was reflected in this extension,” said Altman. “Kevin’s talent and character are both at a very high level and he has earned his role at the center of what we want to do moving forward. As a five-time All-Star and NBA Champion, Kevin has a special understanding of exactly what success and winning require.”
“When I first came to Cleveland, I came with a long-term mindset,” said Love. “I came here to win. We developed a culture here that reflects that. I’m super excited and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a big commitment for me and it’s a big commitment from the Cavaliers, so I want to thank Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire organization. I enjoy playing here, I’m excited about the team that we have and look forward to our future together. Cleveland fans have been special from day one and I’m also looking forward to continuing to be a part of this great community.”
Love (6-10, 251) was an NBA All-Star this past season, appearing in 59 games (all starts) for Cleveland and averaging 17.6 points and a team-high 9.3 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per game.
Love, who is a 10-year NBA veteran, is one of only eight players in NBA history to accumulate 11,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 1,000 three-pointers (Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison), as well as the only player to ever hold a career average at least 10.0 rebounds and knock down 1,000 three-pointers or more.
This has not been the type of season the Cavaliers expected. From poor defense to teammates not getting along. Cleveland has issues.
On Tuesday night, in Detroit, it got worse. Cavaliers F Kevin Love reportedly fractured his left hand against the Pistons.
Watch the injury below: