For the Cavs(8-9), defeating the world champion Los Angeles Lakers(14-4) is a tall order, but defeating the Lakers when LeBron James scores 21 points in a quarter is nearly impossible.
James returned to Cleveland on Monday night and went off. In 38 minutes, James was 19/26 from the field, including 7/11 from three-point range, and finished with 46 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. The four-time MVP scored 21 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers moved to 10-0 on the road with a 115-108 victory over Cleveland.
At 36, James became the fifth player 36 or older to score 46 points or more in an NBA game.
“You take your hat off to him,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about James. “There is a reason why he is who he is, and he accomplished all the things that he’s accomplished. If he’s making shots like that, you pat him on the butt. You try to do more the next time and force him to take an even more difficult shot. When a guy is doing what he did tonight, he’s hard to deal with.”
Andre Drummond led the way for Cleveland with a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds.
After getting blown out in Boston on Sunday, Bickerstaff wanted a better effort from the Cavaliers on Monday, and he got it. Cleveland was right there with the Lakers all night long and led by two heading into the fourth quarter.
“I think they responded the right way,” he said. “This game was not lost by our effort. It was not lost by our scrap. They gave us what they had tonight. They competed. They played together; they competed together. That’s not where this game was lost tonight.”
Bickerstaff was not happy with the officiating, and he felt the officials did not give his team the same respect they gave the Lakers. Los Angeles shot 12 more free throws than Cleveland on Monday night.
“I think it was some momentum-changing calls that were made or weren’t made,” he said. “I think our guys showed up and gave the effort to deserve the respect that both teams should garner, and tonight, I don’t think that was the case. The Lakers are a hell of a basketball team, don’t get me wrong. They deserve everything they have coming, but our guys scrap and play hard and deserve the same.
“Were there plays that we made down the stretch where we could’ve made better decisions, sure. When you’re in a position where your playing uphill, you have to be even better and be even more certain with your decisions, your shot selection, your defensive execution, so we could’ve been better there as well, but it’s hard to overcome the champs-plus.”
The Cavaliers went 2-2 in this four-game stretch against the Nets(2x), Celtics, and Lakers. Going 2-2 is a win for this team, and outside of the Boston game, they played some pretty good basketball, which is progress. Now, they prepare the Pistons on Wednesday night.
On Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks(8-8) appeared to be a tired team against the Rockets(6-9). Dallas trailed by as much as 16 points in the first quarter and trailed by 11 at the break.
The Mavericks would make a run in the third quarter and cut the lead to three, but Houston would dominate from there and push the lead to 21, and Dallas would fall to the Rockets at home 133-108.
DeMarcus Cousins led Houston with 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 5 assists. This was his second double-double of the season, and Eric Gordon contributed 33 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Luka Doncic had a team-high 26 points for the Mavericks.
Dallas was on the second night of a back-to-back, and their game against the Rockets was the fifth game in seven nights for Dallas, but that was no excuse, according to Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle.
“We don’t have any excuses,” Carlisle said. “Didn’t play well enough. The energy was a factor. We were able to get it up in spurts, but we weren’t able to sustain. They had more juice. We obviously miss KP [Kristaps Porzingis] and the other four guys, but everybody is going through something right now. Houston is missing a couple of their good players, too. We’re off tomorrow. We need a restful day tomorrow, and then it’s another busy week next week.”
Again, Dallas was without Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, and Josh Richardson due to health and safety protocols. Also, they were without Kristaps Porzingis due to rest.
Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday night, felt the team did not have enough energy against the Rockets.
“I think we looked like a team that is not energized,” Marjanovic said. “I feel that because the schedule was so tough, with back-to-back games and being on the road, we come back here, and then we go back on the road… We expect the guys back as soon as possible, and we need to continue to play how we know how to play.”
Based on the schedule, we will continue to see games like this in the NBA, where teams look sluggish, and teams just look very bad. It happens, and now Dallas has to regroup and play four games in seven days, starting on Monday at home against Denver.
The Dallas Mavericks got out early against the Spurs on Friday night in San Antonio, and because of the greatness of Luka Doncic, they were able to hold the lead and defeat the Spurs 122-117.
Doncic finished the game with a near triple-double and had 36 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. Dallas led the Spurs by as many as 18 points in this contest, and led by ten going into the fourth quarter.
However, the Spurs, who lost starting PG Dejounte Murray to a sprained ankle in the first quarter, were able to cut the lead to one late in the fourth, but Doncic hit a beautiful short bank shot to put Dallas up three, and on the next possession, Doncic drove to the lane and passed it out to Jalen Brunson who hit a dagger three to cement the game.
After the win, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle talked about Doncic’s playmaking down the stretch of games.
“It’s clear that Luka has great trust in his teammates,” Carlisle said. “The Denver game was another very close game. Milwaukee game was very close. In those situations, he made the right basketball play, got the ball to his teammates, and his teammates stepping into shots with force and confidence.”
Brunson, who had 16 points against San Antonio, added this about Doncic: “He does a lot for our team, makes a lot of plays for himself and for everybody else. I was ready just in case he wanted to dish it out to me, and I was ready to knock it down.”
Dallas was in the bottom half of the league in terms of winning close games last season. In this game, things got tough down the stretch against San Antonio, and Doncic and the Mavs executed.
“I think the biggest thing is making better decisions,” Doncic said about late game situations. “I think, give up a good shot for a better shot. I think that’s the key.”
Doncic is a stud, and it is a joy to watch when he is at his best. Before the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talked about what makes Doncic so good.
“He is a quintessential basketball player,” Popovich said. “He has an intrinsic feel for the game. He was built for this game… At that size to have that passing ability, that vision of the court. The confidence he plays with. He shoots the ball well. He competes; he’s just in love with the game of basketball, and his skills are top-notch, so he’s just a joy to watch.”
After losing three straight, Dallas has now won two in a row and will go for three consecutive wins at home against the Rockets on Saturday night.
Watch as Pop talks Luka Doncic:
The Cleveland Cavaliers traded guard Kevin Porter Jr. to the Rockets in exchange for a future second round draft pick, the team announced on Friday.
Porter, 20, who returned to the team on Friday for the first time this season after missing time due to personal reasons, reportedly had an outburst after the Cavs’ victory over the Knicks. According to The Athletic, Porter became angry when he realized that his locker had been moved.
On Friday, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman explained why the team decided to go in a different direction.
“After careful and thoughtful evaluation, we made the very difficult and collective decision to make this trade,” said Altman. “Given the culture and environment we have worked to cultivate here in Cleveland, we feel this move is in everyone’s best interest. Kevin has a bright career ahead of him as a professional basketball player and, at his core, is a good person. We wish Kevin and his family well in Houston.”
Porter has had his share of off the court issues this offseason, including being arrested and charged with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle back in November. Ultimately, the charge was dismissed.
The second-year guard was the 30th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by Milwaukee and was acquired by the Cavaliers in a trade with Detroit on June 26, 2019. He appeared in 50 games (three starts) with Cleveland last season, averaging 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 0.92 steals in 23.2 minutes.
Houston gets a talented player in Porter, and if he works on whatever is hindering him off the court, he could be a key contributor for the Rockets in the future.
On Thursday, the NBA announced changes to the schedule for the upcoming weekend into next week.
Below are the changes to the NBA schedule:
Saturday, January 23, 2021
The Miami at Brooklyn game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET, and remain televised by NBA TV.
The Philadelphia at Detroit game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET.
The L.A. Lakers at Chicago game will change game time to 9:00 PM ET / 8:00 PM local.
The Houston at Dallas game will change game time to 9:00 PM ET / 8:00 PM local.
Sunday, January 24, 2021
The Charlotte at Orlando game will change game time to 7:00 PM ET.
The Atlanta at Milwaukee game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM local, and remain televised by NBA TV.
The Washington at San Antonio game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM local.
The New York at Portland game will change game time to 10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM local.
Monday, January 25, 2021
The L.A. Lakers at Cleveland game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET.
The Boston at Chicago game will change game time to 9:00 PM ET / 8:00 PM local.
The San Antonio at New Orleans game will change game time to 9:00 PM ET / 8:00 PM local.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
The Washington at New Orleans game will change game time to 9:00 PM ET / 8:00 PM local.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
The L.A. Lakers at Detroit game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET.
The Golden State at Phoenix game will change game time to 10:00 PM ET / 8:00 PM local.
Friday, January 29, 2021
The LA Clippers at Orlando game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET.
Saturday, January 30, 2021
The Milwaukee at Charlotte game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET.
The Houston at New Orleans game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM local.
The Detroit at Golden State game will change game time to 10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM local.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
The Orlando at Toronto game will change game time to 7:00 PM ET.
The Cleveland at Minnesota game will change game time to 8:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM local.
He’s back and better than ever! After missing five games due to a sprained ankle, Cavaliers G Collin Sexton returned on Wednesday night against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, who had their Big 3 of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving together for the first time.
However, Sexton was the biggest star on Wednesday night. The third-year guard scored 20 straight points, including 15 points in the second overtime and finished with a career-high 42 points as the Cavaliers(7-7) defeated the Nets(9-7) at home 147-135 in double overtime.
Sexton out-dueled Irving last night, who returned after missing seven games and scored 37 points for Brooklyn. Sexton took over the game in OT, and according to his head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, not many players in the NBA could have done what Sexton did against Brooklyn.
“Collin(Sexton) has proven time and time again against all his doubters is he’s not afraid of the big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “He likes pressure-filled moments. Not everybody in our league has the courage to do what he did tonight. Not everyone in our league have the ability to do what he did tonight…
“Collin Sexton brought us home tonight, and again, people can say what they want to say about him, but there’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight.”
Cavs’ Cedi Osman, who scored 25 points on Wednesday night, added this about Sexton: “That was a hell of an effort, man. He had 20 straight points. He played great; he played out of his mind. It was amazing. I don’t know what to say.”
Even Irving enjoyed what he saw from Sexton.
“You gotta love NBA ball, though,” he said. “I was smiling when Collin Sexton was making those shots.”
Irving and Sexton will forever be linked. The former Cavalier was traded to Boston in 2017. In that deal, Cleveland was able to secure a first round pick, which turned into Sexton. After the game, Sexton acknowledged his connection to Irving.
“I am in Cleveland,” he said. “I wear number 2, and I do wear Kyrie’s(sneakers), so you know that’s definitely going to be linked together, so I just gotta take it.”
Sexton was terrific last night, and before the injury, was playing at a high level. What he is doing thus far this season is not a surprise. However, the way Cleveland is playing this season, especially when you consider the injuries, is impressive. Once they get fully healthy(Darius Garland and Kevin Love), they could be a team in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Dallas Mavericks(7-7) made a little change to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Pacers(7-7), and that changed appeared to work. Dallas moved Kristaps Porzingis to the center spot, sent Willie Cauley-Stein to the bench, and added rookie Josh Green to the lineup.
The change led to the Mavericks defeating a good Pacers( team on the road 124-112 to end their three-game losing streak.
“After three straight losses, this is a game we had to have,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said.
Porzingis had his best game of the season. He shot 12/15 from scored had a season and game-high 27 points along with a game-high 13 rebounds against the Pacers. According to Porzingis, with him at the five, there was more space on the court.
“Just rolling to the basket, there’s more space,” Porzingis said. “Rolling to the basket more, having the option to roll or to pop, and that’s it. A lot of good looks, a lot of good opportunities, a lot of layups and stuff, and that’s it and make those and get those easy ones, and I’m glad we got to win.”
Carlisle explained why he made the change to the lineup.
“It made a huge impact on our offense for sure,” Carlisle said. “With all the different defensive looks that we expected and the fact that (Myles)Turner wasn’t playing, we were going to play smaller. If Turner would have played, we would have stayed big, but we would’ve probably gotten small pretty quick.
Ultimately, Porzingis and Cauley-Stein would play together down the stretch, and Carlisle was happy with what they did.
“I think KP(Porzingis) and Willie proved down the stretch of the game that you can score points, get stops playing with two bigs, and that was great to see, and that was the difference in the game.”
The Pacers gave a lot of attention to Luka Doncic. However, he recorded his 30th career triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists on Wednesday. While he did not score many points and did not have a good shooting night(5-15), he made plays in the other ways, which he discussed after the game.
“Obviously, it’s not everything about scoring,” Doncic said. ‘They were double-teaming me every time, playing box-and-one. A lot of players are open. I don’t’ think it’s just the assist. There’s sometimes, a lot of times, an extra pass and not always the assist. We just play out there. it’s probably easier basketball, more space.”
Carlisle was correct. The Mavericks needed this victory, and because of the play of Porzingis and others, Dallas was able to get it done.