CLEVELAND, Ohio — What is going to it take for the Cleveland Cavaliers to finish this slide?
In one other hard-fought matchup towards a title hopeful on Wednesday night time, the Cavs misplaced their fifth straight recreation, 120-115, to the Phoenix Suns. It’s the Suns’ 14th win in a row — a formidable run that started with a house win over the Cavaliers on Oct. 30.
Cleveland had its highest-scoring first half of the season, pouring in 65 factors. Cedi Osman erupted for 12 fourth-quarter factors, electrifying the group. Jarrett Allen had one other double-double. The Cavs reached the 100-point mark for the second consecutive recreation after going two weeks with out having the ability to do this. They canned double-digit triples. Had six gamers rating in double figures.
Not even that was sufficient to chill the scorching Suns.
“I believe we performed nice,” Osman mentioned. “Clearly, was a tricky ending for us however for the 48 minutes we had been proper there. We compete. That’s what we’ve been doing from the start of the season. It’s a really robust recreation for us as a result of we knew we had an opportunity to win this recreation. We simply couldn’t pull it off.”
With the sport tied and fewer than two minutes to play, the Suns ripped off six factors. As has been the case all through the season, the Cavs stored coming. Allen flipped in a left-handed layup whereas getting fouled, making the free throw and reducing the Suns’ lead in half.
A stingy defensive possession from Cleveland ended with Phoenix ahead Jae Crowder lacking a baseline jumper.
The Cavs had their shot. Two of them really.
With the shot clock off, following coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s timeout, Osman obtained an honest take a look at a tying triple in entrance of the Cavs’ bench. It missed. Kevin Love battled for the rebound, which ended up in Ricky Rubio’s palms within the reverse nook. Rubio, who struggled along with his shot all night time (5-of-20 from the sector and 2-of-8 from 3-point vary), had an opportunity at redemption. He missed as nicely. Lauri Markkanen collected one other offensive board and scored on a layup. It was a one-point recreation.
The 2 groups exchanged fouls for the ultimate 11 seconds, with Suns coach Monty Williams not wanting to provide the Cavs one other try to tie the sport with a 3.
Suns All-Star Devin Booker scored a game-high 35 factors on 14-of-21 from the sector and 2-of-3 from 3-point vary. Veteran Chris Paul added 17 factors, together with eight within the fourth quarter, and 12 assists in 32 minutes. JaVale McGee completed with 13 factors and 12 rebounds off the bench. Mikal Bridges additionally reached double figures, scoring 11 factors on 5-of-8 from the ground.
The Cavs had been led by Allen, who tallied 25 factors to go along with 11 boards. Allen missed simply one among his 10 area objective makes an attempt. Osman had 23 off the bench. Darius Garland, who entered the sport questionable with a neck pressure, gutted by means of, ending with 19 factors and 7 assists earlier than fouling out on the 1:14 mark.
Following Monday’s loss, Bickerstaff spoke about consistency, particularly in shut video games. It’s a step they should take. There’s just one manner ahead.
The Cavs made it exhausting on the Suns. They’ve been on this identical place on quite a few events this season — battling all the way down to the wire with one of many league’s greatest. Most occasions, Cleveland has been on the unsuitable finish of the consequence. Finally, the younger squad wants to show tight losses into wins with a purpose to keep within the playoff image.
Crunch time is about maturity, execution, particulars and composure — even within the face of a number of questionable calls that would’ve gone both manner.
The Suns went to the Finals final yr. They know what it takes in these conditions. On Friday night time, that have confirmed.
“We had a pair turnovers, we had a pair missed alternatives within the ultimate 5 minutes of that recreation,” Allen mentioned. “If we get these down … I’m not saying we now have to be good, no group’s gonna be good, but when we get a few these, I believe we might’ve come out with the win. The no extra victories factor is true. We need to win. However nonetheless how younger we’re, we have to take some positives from each single recreation that we are able to. I believe tonight was an ideal takeaway. We had been within the recreation. We had been doing issues proper. We did have our errors, however nonetheless had issues that we might construct off of.”
Look no additional than the ultimate two minutes. The sport was tied at 109. The gang was on its ft. The Cavs had probabilities. However the Suns received that closing stretch, 11-6.
There’s nonetheless a stark distinction between a authentic contender and an ascending group looking for the following step.
“We’re enjoying towards some actually good groups with some actually good particular person gamers that may make these performs down the stretch,” Bickerstaff mentioned. “It’s our studying curve to grasp the identical factor is how can we make these performs down the stretch once we’re in these video games? As a result of we’re going to be in loads of video games like this, the best way our guys compete, the best way they play. We’re gonna be in loads of tight fourth quarters, and we simply have to search out our manner by means of it.”
Williams was in New Orleans when the Pelicans drafted celebrity Anthony Davis. Williams was requested previous to Wednesday’s recreation if he sees any similarities between Davis and Cleveland rookie Evan Mobley, who has been watching clips of Davis in hopes of emulating components of his recreation.
“JB and I talked about it earlier than the season,” Williams mentioned. “They’re each lengthy, however they’re sleek, if that is sensible. After I watch him, he could make performs with the ball, I watched him on the movie — he made a driving left-handed go. Most bigs can’t do this whereas they’re going full velocity. I assumed to myself, ‘that child is coordinated.’
“Typically it takes bigs rather a lot longer to make these sorts of performs. Overlook the scoring and the athleticism, once I noticed him make a left-handed go, I used to be like, ‘That’s stuff A.D. might do when he got here to New Orleans.’ However, watch out of placing him in that field, as a result of he looks like he’s his personal participant, and once we had A.D., individuals would attempt to examine him and it was like, ‘man simply let him be himself.’
“However he’s phenomenal.”
The Cavs will host the struggling Orlando Magic on Saturday night time. Tipoff is 8 p.m.
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