Cavaliers fall just short in loss to Clippers 110-108
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Friday night against the Los Angels Clippers, the Cleveland Cavaliers attempted to do something they hadn’t been able to accomplish the entire season. The Cavs had three opportunities to pull off the feat earlier this season, but failed each time — all three occasions coming at home, nonetheless.
Entering Friday’s game against the Clippers, the Cavs hadn’t won three games in a row the entire season; and time is running out, considering they only have 10 games left on their schedule. If there was ever a time to do it, Friday night was the time to complete the trifecta.
The Cavs were coming off home wins against the playoff-pound Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks, which have the best record in the NBA. Meanwhile, Cavs rookie point guard Collin Sexton entered Friday having scored at least 23 points in seven straight games, a franchise rookie record. Remember, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were rookies that wore Cavaliers jerseys, and they never scored 23 points in six straight games in their first year, let alone seven contests.
The last NBA rookie who scored at least 23 points in seven straight games was Tim Duncan in 1998, and Sexton attempted to pass him on Friday. But he and the Cavs had several factors going against them against Los Angeles.
The Cavs standout rookie was matched up against possibly the best defensive point guard in the NBA, Patrick Beverley. Meanwhile, the Clippers were looking for as much momentum as possible as they ready themselves for the playoffs.
“Anytime an offensive player goes against a good defender, sometimes you can kind of get caught up just trying to score on them a lot,” Cavs head coach Larry Drew said. “Collin has played against some good defenders and Beverley, he’s up there with the best of them defending his position.”
While Sexton fell just short of extending his record-breaking scoring streak against one of the league’s best defenders, the Cavs also fell just short of their third straight win, losing to the Clippers 110-108 in Quicken Loans Arena.
In what was a surprising start to the game, the Cavs dominated much of the first half. Cleveland led 40-25 when the first quarter ended, their largest advantage of the night, behind nine points from Sexton in the period. When Cavs forward Marquese Chriss converted a layup with 7:30 remaining until halftime, Cleveland led 49-35 and it looked like they were heading for that elusive third straight win.
Then, the final seven minutes of the second quarter happened.
Los Angeles closed the first half with a 23-11 run to trail by a slim 60-58 margin at halftime. When Beverley splashed a three-pointer for the first bucket of the second half, Los Angeles took its first lead of the evening, 61-60. The momentum had clearly shifted, evidenced by the Cavs’ 92-83 deficit when the third quarter ended.
The Cavs, though, refused to let the Clippers escape Cleveland with an easy win.
Trailing 108-102 with just under two minutes to play, it looked like the Cavs were finally ready to fold to the favored Clippers. But Jordan Clarkson drained a jumper and Larry Nance Jr. threw down a vicious dunk with 37 seconds showing that brought the Cavs back within two points, 108-106. And trailing 110-108 with six seconds to play, the Cavs had the ball with an opportunity to send the game to overtime or win with a three-pointer.
The Cavs inbounded the ball to Clarkson, who dibbled his way to an open shot beyond the arc, but the ball rimmed out at the buzzer.
Although the Cavs didn’t pick up their third straight victory, they played well in each of the last three games against opponents destined for the playoffs. Drew said the competition should motivate his team.
“It definitely should,” Drew said. “When you’re in a situation of where you’re not in the running for a playoff spot and you have an opportunity to go against some of these teams that are going to be there, that certainly can be motivation for you. I’ve been on both sides of the fence.”
Sexton finished with 20 points and four rebounds.
“When you’re going against good defenders like a Beverley, if you let them, they can take you out of your game,” Drew said. “You have to be mindful of just staying the course of what you’ve been doing, what’s been working for you.”
Kevin Love finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Clarkson added 20 points and five rebounds.
The Cavs will meet the Bucks for the second time in a week’s span on Sunday in Milwaukee..
POSTED 03/20/2019 21:42