Cavaliers dethroned by Kings 129-110
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has enjoyed much success in his basketball career. He became just the fourth Canadian to be named a McDonald’s All-American in high school, then went on to become the Big 12 Freshman of the Year at the University of Texas, helping the Longhorns reach the NCAA Tournament and finish the season with a top 10 ranking.
Bolting for the NBA after one year of college, the Cavs selected Thompson No. 4 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, and he rewarded them with an All-Rookie selection in his first season. Four seasons later, Thompson helped the franchise capture its first ever NBA title.
Thompson has known mostly winning in his basketball career, but this season hasn’t been the same. The Cavs have one of the worst records in the league (5-20), but that hasn’t stopped Thompson from having his best season as a pro.
The Cavs center entered Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings averaging 11.8 points per game, the highest of his career, and 11.8 rebounds, which ranks ninth in the NBA and is well above his previous career-high of 9.4 in his second season. Against Sacramento on Friday, Thompson totaled four points, six rebounds and three assists in a 129-110 losing effort at Quicken Loans Arena.
“In the first quarter, we didn’t realize how fast they play,” Thompson said. “I think in the second quarter, we figured it out and got it to a tie game but in the third quarter, they ramped it back up on us and we weren’t able to recover.”
Less than two minutes into Friday’s game, Cavs head coach Larry Drew was forced to call timeout after his team fell into a quick 7-2 hole. The timeout didn’t have much effect, as Cleveland trailed 24-9 a few minutes later following a De’Aaron Fox layup. The Cavs, though, didn’t fold, beginning a furious rally just before the end of the first quarter.
Cleveland trailed 38-27 when the first quarter ended, but they opened the second quarter with a 13-2 run, capped by a Cedi Osman layup, to tie the game at 40 apiece. Sacramento head coach Dave Joerger called timeout this time after the Cavs run, a spurt that helped Cleveland play to a 66-all tie at halftime.
Trailing 96-89 at the end of the third quarter, the fourth quarter is where the game got away from the Cavs. When Fox converted an easy layup 10:30 remaining in the game, Cleveland trailed by double-digits, 100-89. By the time Kings rookie Marvin Bagley III threw down an open dunk less than two minutes later, the Cavs trailed by 15, 106-91, and the game had quickly gotten out of hand.
Fox led Sacramento with a game-high 30 points and 12 assists, while Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield chipped-in 25 points.
Jordan Clarkson led Cleveland with 26 points. Colin Sexton added 23 points, and Alec Burks totaled 22 points and seven assists.
Thompson, who has been a staple in a Cavs uniform for seven seasons, finished Friday’s game three rebounds shy of passing Cavs legend Hot Rod Williams (4,669 rebounds) for the fourth-most in franchise history. While Thompson isn’t the most skilled player in the league, his rebounding, defense and tenacity were vital to the excessive success the franchise had over the last four seasons. Without Thompson switching screens, snagging loose balls and pouring his heart into the game, the Cavs may not have ended Cleveland’s 50-year championship drought.
“I’m playing well this year,” Thompson said. “Just doing my job, punching the clock every day, do whatever it takes to try to win a ball game.”
Thompson is the only active member of the Cavs that played in each of the last four Finals, as times have changed for a franchise that is experiencing a youth movement. Still only 27 years old, Thompson could still be with the organization for years to come. He won’t be a free agent until 2020, so Cavs fans have almost two full seasons more to enjoy Thompson’s relentless hustle and effort.
Another player known for his hustle and effort, Matthew Dellavedova, returned to the Cavs just before Friday’s game via a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Cavs also received power forward John Henson and future draft picks, sending point guard George Hill and Sam Dekker to Milwaukee.
It’s unknown whether Dellavedova will suit up for the Cavs’ matchup with the Washington Wizards on Saturday..
POSTED 12/07/2018 22:39