Cavs run out of gas in OKC

The Cavs(30-21) finished their three-game road trip in OKC against the Thunder(24-25) on Friday night. Cleveland was without Donovan Mitchell(groin), Ricky Rubio(rest), and Kevin Love(back) and was on a second half of a back-to-back after their win over the Rockets in Houston on Thursday night.

Cleveland led early but faded late and fell to the Thunder 112-100 at Paycom Center.

The Cavs finished their three-game road trip 1-2.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Thunder.

The Great:

Darius Garland led the Cavs with 31 points and 13 assists. 23 of his 31 points came in the second half.

Evan Mobley had another strong performance with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. This was Mobley’s second straight 20-10 game, and Mobley grabbed his 1,000th career rebound on Friday night.

Not So Great:

Caris LeVert was 1/12 from the field, including 0/6 from deep; he finished with two points and nine assists. Without Mitchell, the Cavs needed LeVert to be better. 

Second Half: Cleveland led 54-47 at halftime, but they were outscored 65-46 in the second half. OKC shot 59% from the field in that second half and 7/11 from deep, and they closed the game the right way. Conversely, the Cavs shot 39% from the field.

Bottom Line:

No Mitchell, no Love, and no Rubio, and the Cavs just ran out of gas in the second half of a back-to-back. The Cavs did not have the energy to hold OKC off.

However, this is not a bad loss. You’re without your best player on a back-to-back against a solid Thunder team on the road, so the loss is excusable.

The Cavs are a very good team, but their road woes(10-16) prevent them from being great.

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Best of the Rest:

-Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 35 points, five rebounds, and eight assists. Jalen Williams added 17 points, including 3/3 from deep; Josh Giddey chipped in with 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

-Jarrett Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers.

Mavs’ Doncic on loss to OKC: ‘This game is on me’

It’s never easy to win in the NBA, but there are some games that you just can’t lose. On Wednesday night, the Dallas Mavericks hosted the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder. 

OKC snapped a seven-game losing streak when they defeated the Blazers Monday night, and Dallas was coming off a tough road loss against the Magic Sunday night, so the thought was Dallas(29-23) would come back strong against the Thunder(16-34).

However, Lu Dort scored 30 points; Tre Mason added a career-high 29 points as the Thunder defeated the Mavs 120-114 in OT at American Airlines Center.

At one point, Dort scored 14 straight for OKC in OT, and he scored 14 of the team’s 17 points in the extra session.

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with a game-high 40 points, five rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals. Reggie Bullock came off the bench for a season-high-tying 23 points to go with a season-high-tying eight rebounds, and Jalen Brunson contributed 20 points, five rebounds, four assists. 

Dallas had an opportunity to win this game in regulation, but they could not hold the lead down the stretch. With the Mavericks leading 103-101, OKC’s Kenrich Williams made a layup over Doncic to tie things up at 103. Doncic had an opportunity to get the win, but he missed a three at the buzzer.

After the game, Doncic took full responsibility for the loss. First, on defense.

“I mean, this game is on me, you know,” he said. “The last two possessions shouldn’t happen. By far, my worst defensive game this year for sure, and it’s just on me.”

Doncic also was not happy with his final shot at the end of regulation.

“It was a tight game,” he said. “I expected the double [team], and I saw it wasn’t there. I decided to do a step-back, but it was a bad decision.”

Despite the bad losses, Brunson says the locker room is still positive.

“We’re still positive,” he said. “We know what we’re capable of, and we just got to reset focus. Every team has NBA players. You have to treat every team with respect no matter what their record is. Props to them tonight.”

You have to win all the winnable games you can in the NBA. In the last four games, all against teams below .500, Dallas went 2-2, and the two losses came against teams with a combined 28-75 record. Plus, OKC did not have their best player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so that’s unacceptable. 

The Mavericks continue their six-game homestand against the 76ers Friday night.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on victory over OKC: ‘We’ll take the win, but that was a disappointing game for us’

The Cavaliers began their three-game homestand Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cleveland hoped to return to their winning ways after their five-game winning streak ended against the Bulls Wednesday night.

Cleveland, who defeated the Thunder in Oklahoma City 107-102 last Saturday, led by as many as 17 points in this one as they held on to defeat the Thunder 94-87 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

The Cavaliers (28-19)have won six of seven, while OKC(14-32), who was playing the second half of a back-to-back, has dropped five straight.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over OKC.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley had 15 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds. It was Mobley’s 14th straight game in double figures. The last Cavs’ rookie to get 17 rebounds was Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who accomplished the feat in 1998. 

-Double-Double Darius: Darius Garland had his fourth straight double-double with 23 points and 11 assists. The third-year guard has six double-doubles in his last seven games. This was his 15th double-double of the season. Garland had a big third quarter as he scored 13 points on 5/6 shooting from the field.

-Jarrett Allen returned to his double-double way on Saturday. Allen had 14 points and 13 rebounds against OKC. He also added two blocks. It was Allen’s fourth double-double in his last five games. 

Third Quarter: Cleveland led 47-45 at halftime but got hot in third. Cleveland shot 70% from the floor. The Cavs went on a 21-7 run in the third to take their largest lead of the game of 17. Cleveland would take a 78-68 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Turnovers: Cleveland had a season-high 23 turnovers, which led to 20 Thunder points. The Cavs were very sloppy Saturday night. You can get away with that against OKC, but not against the better teams in the league. Garland was the biggest culprit with eight turnovers.

Free Throw Shooting: The Cavs shot 18/35(51.4%) from the line. That’s not good, and on most nights, that could mean a loss.

Three-point Shooting: Cleveland could not buy a three-pointer. They shot 6/27 from deep. Again, shooting that bad from downtown would get you beat on most nights.

Lauri Markkanen: He left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did return. It did not look good for him. However, according to cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, X-Rays were negative and thought is Markkanen has a high-ankle sprain.

Before the injury, Markkanen was playing well as he came off a 28-point performance against the Bulls Wednesday night. Hopefully, he’ll be back sooner than later.

Bottom Line:

OKC gave the Cavs a challenging game last week, so it’s not surprising they gave Cleveland a tough game Saturday night. Wins are hard to come by in the NBA, so a win is a win, especially with the way the Eastern Conference is right now. 

Cleveland, who is the fifth seed in the East and are two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the top spot in the conference, could win three in a row and possibly be the top spot in the East. However, they could lose three in a row and slide below the sixth seed as they are 1.5 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Hornets.

So, while it was not pretty, it still goes on the right side of the ledger. 

“We’ll take the win, but that was a disappointing game for us,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Hopefully, it won’t be too long until Lauri is back with us. It’s over now, and we got the win, but we can’t afford to play that way. We didn’t play well.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland continues their three-game homestand Monday night against the Knicks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Best of the Rest:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led OKC with a game-high 29 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists.

Watch below as Bickerstaff and Garland talk win over OKC:  

Suns’ Booker on 10k points: ‘This one means a lot’

The Suns(27-7) ended their four-game homestand with a victory as they knocked off the Oklahoma City Thunder(12-22) 115-97 to snap their two game losing streak Wednesday night at Footprint Center.

Phoenix took an 85-81 lead into the fourth. With just under ten minutes left, Phoenix led 92-87, and they would go on a 16-6 run to go up by 15 and take complete control of the game.

Devin Booker tied a season-high with 38 points(23 in the first half), including six threes to go along with seven rebounds, five assists, and two block shots. JaVale McGee added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Cameron Payne chipped in with 16 points and seven assists off the bench. 

Booker also made a little history in the first quarter. He became the seventh youngest player in NBA history to reach 10,ooo points(25 years, 60 days today), trailing only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Honestly, this one means a lot,” Booker said. “I think 10k is better than five, six, seven(thousand). I feel like it’s a real milestone that I hit. If (Jeff) Hornacek(former coach) would have put me in a little more, I should be at 12(thousand) right now. I’m messing around…

“I got to be thrown into the fire, and even my vets, my teammates, just passing the ball to an 18-year-old. That’s not easy to do; that’s not common in the NBA.”

Suns associate head coach Kevin Young, who coached his second game in place of Williams, added this about Booker: “Every shot he shoots, he thinks it’s going in, and he’s still able to do it within the confines of the team. He made some huge shots tonight, and to be able make some big shots and hit that milestone; it’s just what he does.”

As a 19-year-old rookie, Booker averaged 13.8 points per game. Since then, Booker has averaged over 20 points in every season, including a career-best tying 26.6 per contest in 2020. 

In 27 games this season, the two-time All-Star is averaging 23.7 points and has put up 30 or more points in three out of the last four games.

Mavs’ Carlisle happy with team’s offensive effort against OKC

When you are making a playoff push, there are certain games you can’t lose, and for the Dallas Mavericks(24-21), that game was on Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder(19-27), who were without their leading-scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

While Dallas let the Thunder hang around in the first half and led by eight at the break, the team asserted their dominance in the second half, and more specifically, the third quarter, where the Mavericks pushed their half time lead to 17 entering the fourth quarter. Dallas would go up by as much as 27 points in the fourth quarter and would defeat OKC 127-106 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Luka Doncic, who missed the last two games due to back tightness/illness, led Dallas with 25 points and seven assists, and Kristaps Porzingis scored 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter with nine rebounds and a career-high-tying five assists. Aleksej Pokusevski led OKC with 21 points. 

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was not happy with the team’s play in the first half, but he loved what they did in the second half. 

“The first half was a bit disjointed,” Carlisle said after the game. “Our first quarter was okay. Second quarter was not very good. Second half, I thought we played to our level, our capabilities.”

Dallas did a great job sharing the ball on Monday night. They had 30 assists against the Thunder and shot 53% from the floor. The 30 assists and 127 points made Carlisle happy.

“Overall, I thought there was a lot of very good offensive stuff,” he said. “A 127 points in an NBA game, you’re moving it pretty good and 30 assists; that’s a damn good number.”

After a day off on Tuesday, the Dallas Mavericks continue their five-game road trip on Wednesday night in Boston against the Celtics.

Notes:

Dallas moved to the seventh spot in the Western Conference with the win over OKC after the Spurs fell to the Kings. 

Nicolo Melli scored six points in his Mavs’ debut. Melli and J.j. Redick were acquired by Dallas from New Orleans before the trade deadline.