Cavaliers drop tenth straight falling to Pacers 123-115 
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers have officially hit the halfway point of their 2018-19 season. With the worst record in the NBA, though, surely the team is keeping one eye on this summer’s NBA Draft.

Midway through the season, the Cavs have yet to reach a double-digit victory total, largely due to injuries and youth. The team has had its best player, Kevin Love, for only four games this season, while several other players have been in and out of the lineup. That doesn’t even include the trades the franchise executed this season that shipped players out and brought new faces in.

“Other than the record (8-33), I think things have gone pretty much kind of how I anticipated from a rebuild standpoint,” Cavs head coach Larry Drew said. “Young guys getting minutes, young guys playing some games through their mistakes, some games not — different lineup combinations, which is something I didn’t anticipate as much to be perfectly honest, particularly with Kevin being out.

“But after there was no Kevin and then with what we had, the different lineup changes were more or less forced than what I really wanted to do because of injury. It’s just one of those things. I think for me and my staff, it hasn’t been an easy task as far as juggling lineups and moving people around in different spots. But, that’s just the way things have gone and we’ve just had to do what we’ve had to do.”

As has been the case in several games for the Cavaliers of late, they trailed heavily (by as many as 26 points) in their meeting with the favored Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. Down by double-digits heading into the fourth quarter, the Cavs rallied to make the final score close, but ultimately fell to Indiana 123-115 in Quicken Loans Arena.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Tuesday’s contest against Indiana seemed like it was over at the end of the first quarter. In recent games, the Cavs had strongly competed with their opponents in the first half, only to have teams pull away from them in second halves. That wasn’t the case against the Pacers, as Indiana jumped all over Cleveland from the opening whistle.

Cleveland trailed 38-16 when the first quarter ended, allowing the Pacers to shoot a blistering 73 percent from the field in the period. Meanwhile, the Cavs shot 28 percent in the quarter and committed eight turnovers.

Indiana’s frontcourt was unstoppable early. Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young and Domantas Sabonis combined for 30 of the Pacers’ 38 first-quarter points, seemingly scoring at will. Bogdanovic looked like the second coming of Jesus Shuttlesworth in the first quarter, scoring 14 points by way of a silky three-pointer, a steal and three dunks.

Bogdanovic finished with 23 points, while Young totaled 26 points and five rebounds.

It didn’t help that Cavs forward Larry Nance hurt his knee early in the first quarter and did not return, as matters immediately went downhill for the Cavs from that point forward. The Cavs cut the Pacers’ nearly 30-point lead to single digits (five points) late in the fourth quarter, but never got any closer.

Jordan Clarkson led the Cavs with 26 points, while Alec Burks chipped-in 19 points and seven rebounds. Newest addition Cameron Payne scored 10 points in his Cavaliers debut.

Drew continues to tinker with lineups, which he has no choice but to do, searching for combinations that show any form of success.

“I just think when you hit certain parts of the season and things are not to your liking, I think you just have to do something to try to give them a jolt,” Drew said. “I don’t know if this is the time to do it or not, but I do know that the way we have been playing as of the last few games is just not acceptable that we’re not able to sustain for four quarters. We have a good half and then we come out flat the second half, and we just can’t continue that pace.”

Losing takes a toll on all players and coaches that experience it in the NBA. But despite as much losing as the Cavs have suffered through this season, it hasn’t been particularly draining on Drew — yet.

“It feels about where we are,” Drew said of being at the midway point. “In some years, it does feel like it’s going slower; some years it feels like it’s going faster. I guess with our situation, most people would think that it feels like it’s going slow, but it feels pretty normal.”

The Cavs look to snap their 10-game losing skid on Wednesday in New Orleans against the Pelicans.
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​POSTED 01/08/2019 21:34
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