Cavaliers struck down by Thunder 95-86
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - It’s no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a rebuilding phase, as this season has become more about the development of young players as opposed to chasing a title. The Cavs have eight players on their regular roster that are 26 years old or younger, and most of them (if not all) will likely continue to get significant minutes throughout the rest of the regular season. With the growing pains of playing NBA pups, however, losing has encapsulated the Cavs.
Cleveland entered Wednesday night’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder with the worst record in the league and the only team without multiple wins. Minus starters Kevin Love, George Hill and Sam Dekker due to injury on Wednesday, the Cavs’ record fell to 1-10 after a 95-86 loss to the Russell Westbrook-less Thunder in Quicken Loans Arena.
“It’s really tough when you lose a guy like Kevin Love, somebody that is your goto guy, somebody that can post up,” Cavs interim head coach Larry Drew said. “At the same time, it’s a challenge; and we embrace that challenge.”
The Cavs are certainly challenged this season, as the franchise is undergoing a youth movement with a core primarily consisting of rookie lottery pick Colin Sexton, second-year swingman Cedi Osman and Larry Nance Jr. Each of them are under the microscope this season, and Osman has looked the most competent in his second year, averaging 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33 minutes per game entering Wednesday. Unfortunately, Osman played just six minutes against the Thunder and did not score before leaving the game with lower back spasms in the first quarter.
The Cavs trailed 23-20 when the first quarter ended, and the minuscule deficit was largely due to Sexton, who scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter after receiving his first professional start for the injured Hill. Sexton scored only two points in the second quarter, but the Cavs only trailed 45-40 at halftime.
If those scores seem low for today’s NBA, they are. One has to question whether there was more good defense or bad offense in the first half, as the Thunder shot 41 percent from the field and the Cavs shot just 33 percent.
“Right now, I’m really just searching and kind of seeing if any of these combinations could have an impact,” Drew said. “With no Kevin Love, we have to look to see what will work and what won’t work.”
Not much worked for the Cavs in the second half, but they never stopped battling and led 82-80 after a Jordan Clarkson layup with 6:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Cavs struggled to score from that point forward and never led again.
Sexton led the Cleveland with a team-high 15 points, while J.R. Smith chipped-in 13 points.
The Cavs youngsters will continue to learn as the season goes on.
“These guys, they enjoy playing with one another, but that’s the next big step, is recognizing who has that hot hand and how to get him the ball and when to get him the ball,” Drew said.
The Cavs will welcome any hot hands they can muster, and their next opportunity to do so will be in Chicago against the Bulls on Saturday..
POSTED 11/07/2018 21:56