Cavaliers lose heart breaker to Hornets 109-106
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The calendar has turned to 2020, and the Cleveland Cavaliers opened the new year hosting the Charlotte Hornets at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Thursday night. The contest was the first of a four-game homestand for the Cavaliers, which weren’t able to hold off the pesky Hornets en route to a 109-106 defeat. The loss snapped Cleveland’s three-game home winning streak.
“It was disappointing, that one,” Cavs head coach John Beilein said. “I won’t say we had it, but we played well enough at times.”
The Cavs jumped out to several sizable leads in the first half, including a 20-11 advantage in the first quarter following a Kevin Love three-pointer with 6:04 remaining in the period. The Hornets, however, fought back at every turn. Less than five minutes later, Charlotte took its first lead of the game, 27-24, on a Malik Monk three-pointer. Cleveland trailed 31-29 heading into the second quarter, when the Cavs built another healthy lead.
Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson converted a layup with a little more than a minute remaining until halftime that gave Cleveland a 57-46 lead, their largest of the game. Charlotte sank a few three-pointers before the half to trail 59-52 at intermission.
The Cavs weren’t able to build a large lead in the third quarter and led by a slim 85-82 margin heading into the fourth. In the fourth quarter, however, the Cavs built their lead back up to double-digits when Dante Exum converted a steal into a breakaway dunk that put Cleveland up 98-88 with 6:09 to play in regulation. The Hornets, however, closed the game with a 21-8 run to stun the Cavs.
It looked like the Cavs should have had a chance to at least tie the game with a final possession when the Hornets threw the ball out of bounds with roughly five seconds remaining. But, the play was never reviewed. Cavs guard Collin Sexton, though, had an opportunity to send the game to overtime with a three-pointer at the buzzer, but the ball ricocheted off the back of the rim.
“She (the referee) said the coach was right in her ear calling timeout, but the guy threw it in so quickly,” Beilein said.
Sexton led the Cavs with 21 points, while Love chipped-in 18 points and eight rebounds.
Hornets guard Terry Rozier led all scorers with 30 points and six rebounds.
The Cavs won their first meeting with Charlotte this season, but were able to hold on for another victory against the team from the Queen City. They’ll attempt to get back on track against the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
POSTED 01/02/2020 22:15