Kevin Porter, Jr. has huge night, Cavaliers fall short in 116-110 loss to Rockets
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - There was a left-handed flamethrower in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Wednesday night for a matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, and his name wasn’t James Harden. Admittedly, Harden was more like a human inferno, dropping 55 points en route to a 116-110 Rockets victory, but Cavs rookie Kevin Porter Jr. had a hot left hand for Cleveland and almost led the Cavs to victory.
Porter scored a career-high 24 points with a career-high six three-pointers made against Houston, but it wasn’t enough to get Cleveland over the hump.
“If you just watch him, I think he’s so much more efficient with his game,” Cavs head coach John Beilein said about Porter. “There’s far less dribbles, there’s more going north, south…In the open court, he’s been really good.”
Porter only had eight points through three quarters, but his 16 points in the fourth kept Cleveland in the game. A heavy underdog entering the game, the Cavs trailed by a slim 88-82 margin entering the final quarter.
When Porter sank a three-pointer with 10:55 remaining in the fourth, the Cavs had crawled within an 88-87 deficit. When the rookie converted another trey less than two minutes later, the Cavs had secured a 94-88 lead inside an amped up Fieldhouse. A Nance three-pointer and another Porter layup later, and the Cavs had their largest lead of the night, 99-88 with just over eight minutes to play.
“There’s a reason these teams are playoff teams,” Beilein said. “They have these same guys coming back, they have veteran players, they’re at a different stage than we are. So, we got to look at it and sort of learn from that as well.
“If we can hang in those games, why can’t you beat them? And we’ve had that situation with some pretty good teams.”
A battle-tested team, the Rockets rallied to regain a 107-105 lead when Harden drained his final trey of the night, a step back 27-foot three-pointer with 2:24 showing. Porter, however, wouldn’t be deterred, draining his final three of the night on the ensuing possession that gave Cleveland a 108-107 lead with 1:42 to play. Harden, though, flushed a floater on the next possession and Rockets forward P.J. Tucker splashed a three-pointer with 37 seconds remaining. Cavs turnovers and errant shots doomed the team from that point forward.
“Offensively, we haven’t hit our stride at all yet,” Beilein said. “We’re still trying to find ourselves, what’s the best combination of players, what the best schemes we should use versus different opponents.”
Cavs power forward Kevin Love finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Collin Sexton chipped-in 18 points. Jordan Clarkson added 17 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Porter produced the best game of his young career, but was ultimately out-dueled by his more experienced lefty counterpart. The Cavs will look to snap their eight-game losing streak in San Antonio on Thursday.
POSTED 12/11/2019 21:51