Shorthanded Cavaliers fall to Warriors 104-89
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers were understandable underdogs Thursday night when they hosted the Golden State Warriors in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. For much of the game, however, the Cavs tenaciously battled the team with the best record in the NBA.
Cleveland led Golden State by 13 points entering the fourth quarter, and it looked like they could be on their way to an eye-popping upset. However, a brutal display of offense in the final period by the Cavs led to their downfall, as the Warriors left Cleveland with a 104-89 victory.
“I got to give our guys a ton of credit,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “There’s a lot of reasons why we didn’t have to compete tonight, but our guys didn’t find them. They went out and gave us what they had, and we’re asking a lot of them right now and we’re aware of that. But they don’t let us down, they don’t disappoint us. They came and gave their best effort tonight.”
Against Golden State, the Cavs were missing four starters (Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley, Collin Sexton) and two rotational pieces (Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens), not to mention they were facing the highest scoring team in the league. Nevertheless, they battled the Warriors tough until their shooting woes surfaced in the fourth quarter.
The Cavs only made two field goals in the fourth quarter, both by Darius Garland, and scored just eight total points in the period. They took their largest lead of the night, an 81-68 advantage, into the fourth quarter, but the Warriors began to assert themselves when the quarter began.
Golden State opened the fourth quarter with a 13-0 run to tie the game at 81 apiece, sparked by three straight Steph Curry three-pointers. Meanwhile, the Cavs didn’t score a point in the fourth quarter until Garland sank a layup plus the foul with 6:20 remaining in the game. The Cavs point guard completed the three-point play with a free throw that brought Cleveland within an 85-84 deficit. From that point forward, the Warriors closed the game with a 19-5 spurt to push their record to an NBA-best 13-2. The Cavs dropped their third game in a row for the first time this season and fell to 9-8.
Curry was magical in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He finished the game with 40 points, four rebounds and six assists. Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who watched the game courtside, congratulated Curry on the court after the final horn sounded.
“They’re a really good team, and they do what they do really well,” Bickerstaff said. “Steph Curry is a helluva basketball player. The shots that he was making weren’t easy shots, but they know how to create them. Obviously, he’s got the skillset to make them.”
Mobley missed the contest with a sprained right elbow, Sexton has a torn meniscus in his left knee and Allen missed the game with an illness. Osman found himself on the injury report with back spasms, Markkanen is nearing a return to the lineup after being entered in the NBA’s health and safety protocols and Stevens has a sprained right ankle. Despite missing so many key players, the Cavs kept fighting until their shots stopped falling.
It was clear early that the Cavs were going to give the Warriors everything they could handle. Cleveland started the game with a 10-0 run and jumped out to a 22-9 advantage midway through the first quarter. Golden State fought back, but the Cavs secured a 29-27 lead at the end of the first. Cleveland held a 54-51 lead heading into halftime, as Ed Davis grabbed 13 rebounds in 14 first-half minutes and Garland totaled 18 points in the first two quarters.
Garland finished the game with 25 points and five assists, while Dean Wade and Kevin Love each chipped-in 17 points.
“We got stagnant, the ball wasn’t moving, just hard switches and we couldn’t make a shot,” Garland said about the Cavs’ offensive struggles in the fourth quarter. “I think the ball wasn’t moving how it was in the last three quarters, we weren’t getting as many easy buckets and they kept making us take tough shots late in the shot clock too. That was really killing us. They definitely picked it up on the defensive end, and we just couldn’t really make a shot. It was eight points in that fourth quarter, that was really bad for us.”
The Cavs will attempt to avoid a fourth straight loss when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Monday
POSTED 11/18/2021 23:11