Sexton continues to silence critics as Cavaliers beat Bucks 105-102
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The point guard position in the NBA has never been more loaded, and the future of the position looks just as bright.
While Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Luka Doncic and Atlanta Hawks rookie point guard Trae Young have earned plenty of headlines this season as the league’s top two rookies, another point guard has been making his case to be mentioned among them — Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard Collin Sexton.
Sexton is even doing things the two Rookie of the Year leaders haven’t done this season. Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Sexton had scored at least 20 points in six straight games, the longest streak by any rookie this season. Sexton is also doing things no rookie has done in decades.
Sexton recorded his sixth straight game with at least 23 points on Monday in a win over the Detroit Pistons. Prior to Sexton, the last NBA rookie who scored at least 23 points in six straight games was Tim Duncan, who totaled seven straight games of at least 23 points in 1998 — Not bad company for the Cavs rookie.
On Wednesday against the Bucks, Sexton attempted to tie Duncan’s mark of seven straight 23-point performances as a rookie and successfully accomplished the feat, scoring 25 points en route to a 105-102 victory over the depleted Bucks. Milwaukee was without MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon, George Hill, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic.
The Bucks jumped out to an early 11-4 lead in the first quarter, but the Cavs quickly came back and took a 14-13 lead on a Kevin Love three-pointer. Part of the reason Cleveland was so successful in the first quarter was because no Buck besides Khris Middleton scored a basket until Brook Lopez converted a hook shot with 4:07 to play in the quarter. The Cavs secured a 30-24 lead at the end of the first quarter and kept the momentum in the second.
When Sexton sank layup with 5:48 to play until halftime, Cleveland took a double-digit lead, 50-39. When the rook drained a three-pointer roughly a minute and half later, the Cavs secured their largest lead of the half, 55-39. At halftime, Cleveland led 58-47.
The Cavs still held an 11-point advantage, 66-55, after a Brandon Knight three-pointer roughly four minutes into the third quarter; but Milwaukee used a 12-0 run, capped by a Lopez three-pointer, that gave the Bucks a 67-66 lead. Heading into the fourth, Milwaukee and Cleveland were deadlocked at 81 points apiece.
Cavs forward David Nwaba converted two free throws to open the fourth quarter that put Cleveland up 83-81. They never relinquished the lead again, thanks to their budding rookie.
Leading 100-98 after Lopez’s third three-pointer of the evening with 2:42 to play, Sexton sank the Cavs two biggest shots of the night. The first came with 1:42 remaining, a trey that put Cleveland up 103-98. Sexton’s second big bucket came with 42 seconds showing, a layup that gave Cleveland a 105-100 advantage. The Bucks had the ball with 11 seconds to play trailing by three points, but they turned the ball over without ever getting a shot up to essentially end the game.
Tristan Thompson played for the Cavs for the first time since Jan. 16 after being out with a foot injury. On a minutes restriction, Thompson scored seven points with six rebounds in 12 minutes of play.
“I was hoping we would have gotten him back sooner,” Cavs head coach Larry Drew said. “But anytime you’re dealing with injury, you can’t rush players back. The last thing you want is a setback, and I think he experienced a little bit of that.”
Jordan Clarkson totaled 23 points and five rebounds, but his backcourt mate Sexton has been receiving the headlines in Cleveland on the court.
In March, Sexton entered Wednesday averaging 22.6 points per game, and he’s averaging a surprising 41.3 percent from beyond the three-point line after many tagged him as a poor shooter entering the league.
Among all rookies this season, Sexton is fourth in points per game (16.0), second in minutes played, second in three-point shooting among rookies with at least 200 attempts (41.3 percent) and first in free throw shooting among rookies with at least 100 attempts (83.6 percent).
Sexton will see if he can keep his hot streak alive on Friday when the Cavs host the Los Angeles Clippers.
POSTED 03/20/2019 21:42