Cavaliers continue slide with 93-87 loss to Magic
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011, Tristan Thompson has only known one franchise. He has spent nine years with the Cavs, experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows. If he continues on his same path and remains with the organization for many years to come, however, he could find his jersey hanging in the rafters of Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse one day.
Thompson is an NBA champion, winning the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy in 2016 as the Cavaliers’ starting center and experiencing the pinnacle of professional team basketball. He’s also been a workhorse for the Cavaliers, playing all 82 games for four consecutive seasons from 2012-16.
You may, however, be thinking, Tristan Thompson? A possible future Cavs legend with his number on display in the Cavs arena for eternity?
Yes, that Tristan Thompson.
No, Thompson has never averaged 14 points per game for a season in his career, nor has he ever been named to an NBA All-Star team. He has never led his team in scoring, and his highest award in the league was an All-Rookie second-team selection 2011-12. But, it would be foolish to dismiss Thompson chances of eventually seeing his name alongside some of the Cavaliers’ greatest players.
Former Cavaliers who currently hang in the rafters at The FieldHouse are Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond, Bobby “Bingo” Smith, Larry Nance Sr., Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and longtime radio play-by-play voice Joe Tait. Ilgauskas was the most recent inductee (2014), and would you believe that his numbers aren’t drastically different from Thompson’s?
Ilgauskas spent 12 seasons with the Cavaliers, averaging 13.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He was a two-time All-Star, but doesn’t have the distinction of calling himself a champion. During his career so far, Thompson has averaged 9.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game.
Thompson, however, is in the midst of his best season in the league thus far, averaging a career-high 13.9 points, a career-high 10.6 rebounds and career-high 1.2 blocks per game. Entering Friday, he had already tallied 17 blocks at home this season (11 games), which is more than he had all last season (16 blocks in 43 games).
Thompson has also played the eighth-most minutes in Cavaliers history, pulled down the fourth-most rebounds (5,017), recorded the seventh-most blocks (420), has the sixth-best field goal percentage (51.8 percent) and attempted the 10th most free throws (1,774). When he took the floor against the Magic on Friday, battling a cold no less, Thompson played in his 582nd career game, tying him with Price for eighth on the Cavaliers all-time games played list.
Due to the illness, Thompson wasn’t able to practice with the team the day before, but he played 32 minutes on Friday. Unfortunately for Thompson and his teammates, the Cavs fell 93-87 to the Magic. The loss was Cleveland’s 11th in their last 12 games.
“I feel we’re making great progress actually, but it’s not being seen on the scoreboard for a lot of reasons,” Cavs head coach John Beilein said.
The Cavs trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but rallied to trail by a 52-47 margin at halftime. When Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman sank back-to-back three-pointers just minutes into the third quarter, the Cavs took a 56-54 lead, their first since a 25-24 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Trailing once again with just under a minute remaining in regulation, Darius Garland converted a jump shot that brought the Cavs within a 90-87 deficit. On the next possession, however, Magic forward Aaron Gordon threw down an easy dunk with 20 seconds to play that put Orlando back up five points. When Cleveland turned the ball over on the ensuing possession with 13.3 seconds showing, the game was effectively over.
“The schedule has not been kind to us, as far as the amount of playoff teams we’ve been playing,” Beilein said. “But we just got to keep pushing through and pushing through and trying to make improvements.”
Thompson finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Sexton led Cleveland with 19 points. Kevin Love missed the game due to an illness.
Thompson is in the final year of a 5-year, $82 million contract, and rumors of him possibly being traded before this season’s deadline have circulated. However, he’s still on the roster, and there’s no indication he’ll be on the move any time soon. If a team in need of a center wants to trade for Thompson before February’s deadline, they’ll have to part with something the Cavs would be willing to accept for their cornerstone big man.
“We got guys with contracts on the line right now,” Beilein said. “They’re feeding their families, it’s passionate. Out job is, what is the best way for us to continue to improve this team so that we continue to grow and it sets a foundation for the future.”
At halftime of Friday’s game against Orlando, the Cavaliers honored several of their legends in attendance with a ceremony. Could Thompson receive the same recognition one day? It isn’t as far-fetched as some may think.
POSTED 12/06/2019 22:21