Don't look now Cavaliers have won 3 of 4 stopping Grizzlies 112-107
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Playing their fourth game in a five-game homestand on Saturday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers may finally be figuring out who they are as a collective as the NBA regular season winds down. The Cavs have been decimated by injuries this season, and they were nearly whole on Saturday, minus starting center Tristan Thompson, who continues to nurse a sore left foot.
All-Star power forward Kevin Love returned to the Cavs’ lineup earlier this month after missing most of the season due to injury and foot surgery. With Love out of the lineup and other players periodically popping up on the injury report, not to mention the trades the team pulled off before the deadline, the Cavs haven’t been able to build any real chemistry on the court this season. As a result, their record has hovered near the bottom of the league since the season began.
Hosting the Memphis Grizzlies at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, the Cavs nearly blew an 18-point lead but hung on to defeat Memphis 112-107
Love, who played in his first fourth quarter since his return, led the team with 32 points and 12 rebounds. Collin Sexton contributed 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Marquese Chriss totaled six points and six rebounds off the Cavs bench.
The Cavs acquired Chriss in a three-team trade just before the deadline earlier this month.
“He’s a big body and he really gets off the ground,” Cavs head coach Larry Drew said of Chriss. “We can do some things as far as sending him to the rim. I like him in the post, I like him down low. He’s athletic and he has some lift, and I will look to probably post him a little bit more.
“I like the fact that with his size, he really moves real well, not just offensively where he can run out to the three-point line and shoot threes but what I see him doing defensively, I’m very impressed. I wasn’t as knowledgable about his game as I am now, but he seems to be comfortable out on the floor if he gets switched onto a smaller guy.”
The Cavs trailed Memphis 11-10 just over four minutes into the game, but exploded midway through the first quarter. Cleveland immediately put together a 12-0 run, capped by four straight Love free throws that gave the Cavs a 22-11 lead. By the end of the first quarter, Cleveland led 37-24.
In the dominating first quarter, the Cavs outrebounded the Grizzlies 21-5. They only kept up the onslaught in the beginning of the second quarter.
When Jordan Clarkson started the second quarter with five quick points, the Cavs secured their largest lead of the game, 42-24. It appeared as if the Cavs were going to cruse to their second straight victory, but Memphis closed the first half with a run of their own. The Grizzlies closed the second quarter with a 32-21 run to trail by just seven points at halftime, 63-56.
Still leading by seven points, 79-72, midway through the third quarter, the Cavs couldn’t fend off the Grizzlies’ charge. By the time Memphis forward Bruno Caboclo converted a layup with 1:51 to play in the third, Memphis had regained their first lead since early in the first quarter, 82-80. The Grizzlies’ effort earned them an 84-82 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Trailing 103-101 with 2:25 to play, it looked like the Cavs were going to allow the Grizzlies to complete the comeback. But Cavs forward Cedi Osman immediately sank three-pointer and threw down a vicious dunk that gave Cleveland a 106-103 lead with 1:41 remaining. When Sexton sank his fourth three-pointer of the night with a minute to play, the Cavs secured a 109-103 lead and essentially put the game out of reach.
Thompson has played in only 35 of Cleveland’s 60 games this season. Drew said the team is just being cautious with the big man.
“As we said at the very beginning, we’re going to take it very slowly as far as bringing him back,” Drew said. “Very similar to (Kevin Love), just make it a gradual process…We just don’t feel that he’s quite ready yet and we’ll continue it at a slow pace.”
Drew sees his team getting healthier and healthier as the season progresses, and he’s greedy for wins that didn’t come earlier.
“That’s kind of where the greed comes in at this point, because we’ve gotten bodies back,” Drew said. “It feels good to come in here knowing that we got some bodies, and now we can do some things and move some people around and we haven’t had that luxury all year. There is a little greedy side to me on that standpoint, because I haven’t had it and I’ve been salivating for it.
“Now we finally have it. We still have some guys that are on minute restriction. But still, it really feels good to go into a practice and not have to use my coaches to fill numbers.”
The Cavs can win their third straight game, something they have not done the entire season, when they close out their homestand on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers..
POSTED 02/23/2019 22:13