INDIANAPOLIS — Shortly earlier than tipoff, about 10 hours forward of ringing within the new yr, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff censored himself when summarizing 2020.
The condensed, expletive-free model: Fortunately it’s over.
However earlier than saying farewell to a troublesome yr that challenged him and the complete group in sudden methods, the Cavs had one final shot to finish on a excessive be aware. Not fairly. Not in 2020. The Cavs misplaced their second straight recreation, 119-99, to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday afternoon.
After an thrilling three-game profitable streak, one fueled by snappy ball motion, team-first play and smothering protection, the Cavs are all of a sudden fading. They’re additionally getting pissed off.
These feelings boiled over at varied factors all through Thursday’s matinee, as Cedi Osman, Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee had been all hit with technical fouls for arguing with the officiating crew. Drummond and McGee, in foul bother a lot of the recreation, couldn’t get right into a rhythm. Osman’s taking pictures struggles carried over from Tuesday evening’s loss, scoring simply three factors on 1-of-Eight from the sphere and 1-of-5 from 3-point vary.
Taking part in in a metropolis affectionately often known as “Naptown,” the Cavs began gradual, trailing by 11 on the finish of the primary quarter. They fought again with a robust second, punctuating these 12 minutes with a 7-2 surge to present them new life — and solely a six-point deficit — going into the halftime locker room. However the third quarter resembled the primary. Indiana grabbed management because of its 31-point offensive outburst and Cleveland’s defective taking pictures.
For the second straight recreation, the Cavs had been compelled to play from behind. They made a couple of separate runs, attending to inside 11 on the 5:29 mark of the fourth quarter. As a substitute of one other valiant push, a couple of premature defensive errors and empty possessions on the different finish dashed any hopes of that.
Collin Sexton scored a game-high 28 factors on 12-of-19 from the sphere. His backcourt mate, Darius Garland, added 21 factors, together with a career-best 5 3-pointers. Drummond completed with 11 factors and 13 rebounds, his fifth consecutive double-double to open the season.
The Pacers’ balanced assault, with all 5 starters scoring in double figures, was led by Domantas Sabonis. The 24-year-old massive man had 25 factors, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Malcolm Brogdon chipped in with 17.
Over the previous yr, the Cavs made a training change — Bickerstaff taking up for embattled John Beilein — had their constructive momentum halted by the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the NBA in March, had been certainly one of eight groups solid apart by the league and excluded from the Disney Bubble, and have been beset by accidents to key gamers.
There have been actually some silver linings too. Bickerstaff discovered some positives. Simply not on Thursday.
It was a becoming finish to 2020. Good riddance.
Windler to be re-evaluated
Younger swingman Dylan Windler, who’s with the staff on this highway journey, will probably be re-evaluated within the coming days. Sidelined with a fractured left hand, Windler just isn’t anticipated to play in any of the six video games on the journey that ends Jan. 9. He was doing conditioning work earlier than Thursday’s recreation in his hometown.
With Drummond in foul bother early, choosing up his second private on the 5:36 mark of the primary quarter, McGee entered — and made a distinction immediately. In his first two minutes, McGee grabbed 5 offensive rebounds and altered a couple of photographs on the different finish of the ground. However like Drummond, McGee racked up the whistles in opposition to the Pacers’ burly frontcourt. His fifth foul halfway by means of the third quarter was adopted by a technical foul.
McGee performed simply 14 minutes, scoring seven factors and grabbing 13 rebounds.
That foul bother led to the primary significant minutes of the season for Thon Maker, who scored six factors to go along with one rebound and one block in eight minutes.
The Cavs will proceed their highway journey on Saturday in opposition to the Atlanta Hawks. Tipoff is ready for 7:30 p.m.
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