Cavaliers win streak ends as they fall to Luka Doncic and Mavs 111-98
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers attempted to do something on Saturday night they hadn’t accomplished since late last season — win three games in a row.

On Saturday, the Cavs hosted the Dallas Mavericks, a team that entered the day with only five wins in 26 tries on the road this season, the second-fewest in the NBA.

“It would be a big lift,” Cavs head coach Larry Drew said prior to the game about his team possibly winning its third straight. “That’s something we have not done this season, and that will be the incentive tonight, to do something we haven’t done this 2018-19 season. And that was one of the things the players talked about this morning, just doing something we haven’t done all year.”

Unfortunately for the Cavs, they’ll have to wait a while longer before they can lay claim to three straight wins, as the Mavericks left Cleveland with a 111-98 victory.

Thanks to a superb first quarter by Mavs rookie Luka Doncic, Dallas jumped out to a 40-31 lead when the quarter ended. Doncic scored 18 points in the quarter, draining several step-back three-pointers that had the crowd groaning with amazement. For any NBA team, allowing 40 points in a quarter is never good.

“As we move forward, obviously defense is a priority,” Drew said. “With our team, we really have to get better defensively; it’s a challenge that we put out there every single game we play…For us, one of our biggest problems has been just size.

“We haven’t had really good size with all of our big guys being out, but now that we’re starting to get bodies back, we can really see who we are defensively. As we move into the All-Star break, we’ll continue to challenge these guys from defensive standpoint because we have to be better.”

With Doncic on the bench, however, the Cavs battled back in the second quarter and regained the lead at 47-46 with a David Nwaba layup midway through the period. But, Doncic returned immediately after the bucket, knocking down back-to-back shots as soon as he entered the game. With Doncic back on the floor, the Mavericks regained the lead by halftime, 58-55. Doncic’s points total reached 28 at the break.

The Cavs played well through three quarters, trailing only 86-80 heading into the fourth. Both teams struggled early in the fourth quarter, each going scoreless through the first three minutes. But Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson sank a three-pointer and was fouled with 8:56 to play; he converted the free throw and the Cavs were quickly down double-digits. Dallas led 100-87 after a Harrison Barnes three-pointer with 6:26 remaining, and the Cavs never recovered.

Jordan Clarkson led Cleveland with 19 points and three rebounds, while Nwaba contributed 12 points and four rebounds. In the battle of lottery rookie point guards against Doncic, Collin Sexton finished with 13 points.

“He still has a lot to learn,” Drew said of Sexton. “If you look at our league night-in-and-night-out, you’re going to be going against some terrific point guards. But, he’s coming along. And I know when people ask me about him and development, I make reference a lot to the fact that he has a lot to learn and learning, it won’t just come in months, it’s going to take time.

“One thing I really like about Collin and totally respect about him is the fact that he understands where he is defensively and he continues to work at it and he continues to take the challenge. As long as he keeps that attitude, he’ll get there.”

Doncic was the star of the night, finishing with a career-high tying 35 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

The Cavs came up short in their quest to win three in a row, a task that is looking like it will be tougher and tougher to accomplish before the season ends.

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​POSTED 02/02/2019 22:15
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