Cavs belted around by Nuggets 110-91
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Since the Cleveland Cavaliers dismissed Tyronn Lue roughly a week ago, the Cavs have looked like a different team under acting head coach Larry Drew. Drew, though, humbly offered before Thursday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets that their philosophies aren’t necessarily different, but their approaches may be.
“I don’t there’s too much difference,” Drew said. “I think the only difference is delivery of trying to get what you try to get out of them as a coach. What T-Lue tried to get out of them, I’m the same, but our deliveries may be a little different.”
In their first game with Drew as acting head coach on Tuesday, the Cavs clipped the Hawks by 22 points to pick up their first win of the season. Hosting the team with the second-best record in the Western Conference on Thursday in Drew’s second game at the helm, the Cavs looked competitive in the first half. Yet, Cleveland ultimately fell to a more experienced Nuggets team, 110-91 in Quicken Loans Arena.
While the Cavs (1-7) have to play near their best to secure wins this season, Drew is primarily concerned with keeping his players focused as long as he’s calling the shots on the court.
“It’s very tough, because guys want to know what my situation is, and I try to be up front with them about it,” Drew, who has not worked out a new contract with the team, said. “I really want to just focus on these games, because it’s about you guys (players) getting better individually and it’s about you guys getting better as a team.
“I don’t want to be a distraction at all, because it’s not about me. It’s about this organization, about this team and it’s about the direction that we want to go and how do we get there.”
The Nuggets (7-1), which appear to be heading in the right direction after missing the playoffs by one game last season, surprisingly trailed the Cavs 27-15 when the first quarter ended. It’s clear that Drew has the Cavs playing hard, but the Nuggets’ talent disparity took over in the second quarter.
Denver opened the second quarter with a 23-11 run to tie the game at 38 with 5:03 to play until halftime. The Nuggets regained the lead less than two minutes later and took the game over en route to a 50-42 halftime lead. Unable to match a team that has played together for several seasons, the Cavs trailed by 17 points when the third quarter ended, and the fourth was merely a formality.
Jordan Clarkson led the cavs with 17 points, while Cedi Osman contributed 13 points and three rebounds. Tristan Thompson and George Hill finished with 10 points apiece.
One Cavalier who has found himself out of the rotation is J.R. Smith, who made it public on Thursday that he wants to be traded. Smith has yet to play more than 20 minutes in a game for the Cavs this season and didn’t see the floor on Thursday.
“It’s a tough situation as a veteran, and I totally understand that,” Drew said. “I think we all at some point we all experience it, having been a player. The most important thing is you just stay professional; I think J.R. is trying to do that.”
The Cavs want to give their young players as much experience as possible for the future, and Smith’s outburst is just the latest in what has been a wild week for the franchise with the firing of Lue.
“Obviously with what has transpired these last four or five days, it’s just something else added to the plate, so to speak,” Drew said. “That’s not an easy situation; I totally understand J.R.’s feelings.”
While the Cavs didn’t win on Thursday, Drew seems to be instilling some toughness in the young Cavaliers.
“I want these guys to have fun playing again and smiling and high-fiving and running up and down the court and just feeling good about themselves,” Drew said.
The Cavs will attempt to do all those things on Saturday against the Hornets in Charlotte, as they try to get their second win of the season.
“I think overall, the team feels good about what they can become, because they’ve seen it,” Drew said. “They haven’t seen it on a consistent basis, but they’ve seen it.”.
POSTED 11/01/2018 21:56