Cavaliers can't keep up with Oklahoma City in 121-106 loss
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Coming off a demoralizing home loss to the Charlotte Hornets, it was going to be interesting to see how the Cleveland Cavaliers responded two days later against a surging Oklahoma City Thunder team. In the game against Charlotte, the Cavs had a double-digit lead with six minutes to play and a chance to win their fourth straight home game, but the Hornets squashed that possibility as regulation wound down.
The Cavs were back at home against Oklahoma City on Saturday night, but fell to the favored Thunder 121-106 in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The loss was Cleveland’s third straight after winning four of their previous five games.
“[Oklahoma City] is so hot right now,” Cavs head coach John Beilein said. “They’re playing really well. It’s a little different pace.
“They’re not running up and down the floor, but they play great transition defense. They take care of the basketball, they don’t allow people to run on them and it’s been a great formula for them.”
On his 21st birthday, Cavs point guard Collin Sexton led all scorers with 30 points and five rebounds. He did his best to keep Cleveland in the game with 17 first-half points, but he was the only Cavalier in double-figures in the first half. Meanwhile, three Thunder players had at least 10 points in the first half, helping Oklahoma City take a 66-53 lead at the break.
The Thunder only stretched their lead in the third quarter, leading by as many as 17 points when Steven Adams gave Oklahoma City a 91-74 lead with 3:12 remaining in the period. The Cavs closed the gap to an eight-point deficit roughly a minute into the fourth quarter following five quick points from Cedi Osman, but that was the closest they came the rest of the way.
“I think we’re still trying to find out about what people can handle,” Beilein said. “To watch the growth, especially our younger guys and who they can handle and what they can handle.”
Sexton, who became just the third player (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving) in Cavs franchise history to reach 2,000 points for his career at age 21 or younger, and rookie point guard Darius Garland (20 points, six assists) certainly held their own against Oklahoma City’s trio of superb point guards.
Thunder guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (20 points, seven rebounds), Dennis Schroder (22 points) and Chris Paul (seven points, 10 assists and four rebounds) all had standout performances.
Osman chipped-in a season-high 22 points and four rebounds for the Cavaliers.
The Cavs have two games left on their four-game homestand, starting with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
POSTED 01/04/2020 22:14