Drummond led Cavaliers fall to Pacers 113-104
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Andre Drummond is still adjusting to life in Cleveland. The Detroit Pistons traded the two-time All-Star center to the Cavaliers earlier this month, and entering Saturday night’s home contest against the Indiana Pacers, Drummond had played only five games with his new teammates. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has had a simple message for Drummond as he goes through the change.
“Just stick with it,” Bickerstaff explained. “It can be frustrating at times, because for so long, you’ve done something with certain people a certain way. The art of the game of basketball being a team sport, each individual impacts another individual in a certain way.
“When you’re playing at your peak, everybody is comfortable with one another and everybody is influencing each other in a positive way. We just got to figure that out. We’ll get there. Our guys are open and willing and trying, but it’s the small things — which angle he sets the screen on a pick-and-roll, where the ball goes low, where the ball goes high, when a defense plays you in a drop or they’re up. All those things are small things that we just have to work together to figure out.
“When you’re used to being successful and comfortable, and then you make that change, it takes a little while to make it happen and it can be frustrating. But the conversation with ‘Dre is, play as hard as you possible can, don’t let the frustration weight you down and you’re dominant enough to make it happen.”
The Cavs knew getting a victory in Saturday’s game against a hot Pacers team that had won four of its last five games would be a tough task. But going for their fourth straight home win, a feat they had not accomplished all season, the Cavs battled the Pacers until the end but fell short 113-104 in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
“This is going to be a process, 20-some odd games left,” Bickerstaff said. “Every game is going to be important for us, and every game we need to see those steps, and then it becomes habit. That’s the difficulty of having the change happen with 28 games left is you miss on some practice time.”
Although Drummond is still fairly new to the Cavaliers, it didn’t show on Saturday. The center led Cleveland with 27 points and 13 rebounds, his 46th double-double of the season.
Drummond started the game hot, scoring 15 points with seven rebounds in the first half, helping the Cavs secure a 58-56 halftime lead. The contest was close throughout, as the Cavs and Pacers found themselves tied at 86 heading into the fourth quarter.
Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Drummond brought the Cavs within a 104-101 deficit with 3:17 to play. The Cavs, however, had trouble scoring down the stretch, registering just three points the rest of the way.
Cleveland power forward Kevin Love recorded his 21st double-double of the season with 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Collin Sexton chipped-in 16 points, three rebounds and four assists.
In his 10th game back from a year-long absence due to a ruptured tendon in his right knee, Pacers shooting guard Victor Oladipo finished with 19 points.
“He is extremely talented,” Bickerstaff said. “He can impact the game on both sides of the floor, his ability to break you down and get into the paint and then create for others, as well. Whenever you got a guy who’s that dynamic, it changes your focus, where as a group, you can’t just expect one guy to go out and try to slow him down…they are obviously capable around him.”
The Cavs had issues with a few other Pacers, as forward T.J. Warren was virtually unstoppable. Warren totaled 30 points and six assists, but point guard Malcolm Brogdon wasn’t too shabby either, finishing with 22 points and eight assists. All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis nearly totaled a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.
“Obviously, they have talent to go along with [really good coaching],” Bickerstaff said about the Pacers. “Sabonis is a very unique big in his ability to handle the ball and make plays with the ball, and he gives all the other guys that are on the floor with him confidence, because they know he can find them, so they’re moving and cutting and putting pressure on your defense because they know and they trust that he’s going to get him the ball. It’s kind of interesting — they have underappreciated guys to go along with being an underappreciated team and a coach too…they don’t make many mistakes.”
The 36 minutes Drummond logged on Saturday was his most since becoming a Cavalier. Entering Saturday, he had been averaging roughly 24 minutes per game.
“I think we’ll see it grow,” Bickerstaff said regarding Drummond’s minutes with the team thus far. “I think it’s been after the break, certain things have been kind of odd, where we found those lineups late in a couple of the games and we kind of stuck with those lineups, but I think there’s room for growth in those minutes.”
Bickerstaff doesn’t seem concerned with Drummond fitting in with the team moving forward.
“With what we’re trying to do here with the group that we have and as we’re moving forward, he is a fit,” Bickerstaff said. “His athleticism, his speed, his size with our younger guards and their growth, he’s perfect for their growth. He can play the pick-and-roll game with them, he can help them on the defensive end of the floor and this game is becoming faster and faster and faster, and we’d like to get up there.
“His ability to run and beat other bigs down the floor and give our guards a target to throw him the ball is unique, especially when you mix it with that size and the presence he can have on the defense end.”
The game against the Pacers was the opener of a five-game homestand for the Cavaliers, while Indiana was beginning a five-game road trip. The Cavs will look to end their two-game losing skid on Monday against he Utah Jazz.
POSTED 02/29/2020 22:35