The Cavs fought back tonight only to lose to an Evan Fournier last second shot. After being down 11 at halftime, Cleveland held the Magic to just 12 points in the third while scoring 32 themselves behind what seemed like 8,000 Tristan Thompson screens. Cleveland entered the fourth with a nine point lead and all the momentum in the world. A twenty point swing will do that.
For most of the fourth, the Cavs held the Magic at bay, as they made little runs. After the Magic grabbed six straight points to get within three with 6:58 to go, Jordan Clarkson hit a jumper to stop the run. With 3:33 to go, the Magic grabbed a lead off a Fournier 3-pointer. But the Cavs didn’t buckle. George Hill took over to guide the team hitting two mid-range jumpers in a row before pulling up from deep to put the Cavs ahead 95-92 with 2:10 left. He then nashed the ball and found TT under the basket to extend the lead to 97-92. With 42.2 seconds left, J.R. Smith hit a dagger 3-pointer to set the score at 100-95 forcing a Magic timeout.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 6, 2018
Aaron Gordan ripped down an offensive board on the following possession and put it back in, but the Cavs still just needed to hold the ball and hit some free throws, since the shot clock was at 23.8. It went bad though.
Cedi Osman tossed the ball away to the Magic on an errant pass towards Clarkson. Clarkson then fouled for some reason and the Magic brought the game to within one point. After a timeout, the Cavs inbounded the rock to Kyle Korver anticipating a foul, but the refs let the teams play. The Magic swarmed and Korver lost the ball after being hacked. The Cavs ended up fouling again, and Orlando made one of their two free throws to tie the game.
In the waning moments of the Cavs game, a loss at the buzzer in Orlando, the refs did not feel Kyle Korver was fouled here. Can't wait for the NBA 2-minute report. pic.twitter.com/HTjWqrtaeF
— Matt McCoy (@MattMcCoyZone) November 6, 2018
After taking another timeout, the Cavs were unable to get a solid look. George Hill got deep into the paint and had his shot blocked after not getting any separation. He then appeared to be fouled as he fought for the board, but the refs were nowhere to be found. The rest is history and won’t be talked of after this. The Magic got the ball, called a timeout, and closed the game on a tough shot.
This was a weird night. From the start, the Cavs were running a lot of off-ball screens set by Thompson. Thompson wasn’t rolling hard and the team had some trouble stringing together multiple actions to create shots, but it was an attempt at an running offense. Tristan made it work in the first getting seven points, including an old school 3-point layup. He finished the night with 19 points and 16 boards. George Hill also helped in the first chipping in 6 on 3-3 shots including a beautiful steal he took coast to coast. He finished the night with 22 points on 10-12 shooting to go with six assist and four steals. While the vets were showing up in the first, the team still turned it over four times times giving the Magic nine points. And, Aaron Gordan just abused the smaller Sam Dekker. He bulldozed him getting 10 0f his 23 with ease. The Cavs second line also got sloppy at the end of the quarter giving up two Terrence Ross 3s to enter the second down, 21-30.
The offensive motion that Cavs attempted in the first started to pay off a little as the second quarter went on. Clarkson carried the Cavs early scoring two 3s and a two off a Larry Nance tap-out steal. J.R. Smith then stepped up canning a 3-ball off a TT off-ball screen and then finding TT for an oop off another off-ball pick. 80% of the Cavs shots were assisted on. The Magic continued to feed Aaron Gordan who got six points and punished any mismatches he saw. Between that and Cleveland’s seven give aways the Magic were able to score without a ton of effort. They also finished the quarter on a 9-2 run to end the half up, 58-47.
The Cavs came out in the third and looked the best they have all season. This was partially a result of their own efforts and partially because of the Magic not being very good. The Cavs got off a 10-0 run to tie the game. Basically, Tristan started setting screens every single possession and guys either received a DHO from him, pulled up behind him or drove in, or hit him rolling. Six buckets came off his screens and two came from him diving. One basket came from a steal and another came from a tip back by the artist known as Canadian Dynamite. And, two shots came out of solo action. The Cavs repeated what works. Jordan Clarkson capped the quarter off with a four-point play.
Defensively, the Cavs didn’t have to do much. The Magic started chucking when their shots wouldn’t drop. They went 2-10 from deep. And, that’s how the Cavs ended up being in a great position to win a game. We won’t relive the fourth again though.
- Larry Drew had the Cavs in a position to win and they didn’t. Sure, the refs were bad. Sure, Drew could have burned a timeout to help the young guys with their nerves. Sure, Cedi could have avoided tossing the ball away. Sure, Clarkson could have avoided fouling towards the end of the game. Lots of things could have gone different, but this is part of watching a bad team. What can go wrong, will go wrong. There’s a reason the Cavs are on pace to win just eight games this year.
- Cedi Osman is struggling. He was 5-17 for just 11 points. He did grab 10 boards though and he was present defensively.
- The defense needs to learn how to swap guys out when they are switching. The Cavs often end up in a position where a smaller player gets stuck onto a center when covering a pick and roll. If the play continues after the initial screening action, the Cavs need to learn to help the little guy out. If a bigger player is nearby, he needs to tell the little man on the center to scram. J.R. Smith shouldn’t end up on Nikola Vucevic if a guy like Tristan Thompson is covering a perimeter oriented guy.
- It was frustrating watching Sam Dekker cover Aaron Gordan. Same with J.R. Smith. Gordan should have been Tristan’s assignment. He’s simply too big and strong for a lot of the Cavs. I’m willing to bet he doesn’t have the same effectiveness dribbling against a guy he can’t bulldoze.
- The Cavs are running an offense that involves only strong side action. Most of the time it only involves two guys. The man with the ball and the man screening. Thankfully, the Magic aren’t good defensively. They didn’t snuff out any of the pick and rolls tonight. They didn’t even figure out that TT wasn’t a threat to score off the roll unless he was wide open. Larry Drew needs to get the weakside man cutting. He needs to get multiple things happening for a defense focus on. He needs to work on getting Larry Nance and Channing Frye more minutes. Both of those guys are more dynamic than Tristan and would be able to run the same screens with the same or greater success with the first unit.
- Collin Sexton is just too weak. He can’t handle the ball when guys push into him. He had two assists, two turnovers, and five points. He needs to learn to be a driver. He dribbles two steps forward, then bounces back a step. He dribbles left to right. He’s too jittery for his own good. If he applied himself to charging the rim, he’d get to the line and defenders would lay off of him for fear of being burned off the dribble.
- The Vets talked and the vets delivered. Hill guided the Cavs in the fourth tonight and stayed active. J.R. Smith had his second 14 point game in a row and chipped in three assists and four boards. TT had a career game. He may not be the best finisher in the world, but when he’s just slamming every player he sees, he’s very valuable.
- Clarkson had 14 points on 5-10 shots. He’s a ball hog. He passes only when he’s confronted by three or more defenders. However, when the vets are leading the team and the game is going steady, his spark plug scoring can help the team. It’s not just empty points.
- The Cavs finally hit some more 3s. They went 10-23. They still need to take about five more per game.
- Tonight was a learning experience. Cedi won’t pass the ball again when the opposing team has to foul in order to get the ball back. That’s a guarantee. Larry Drew won’t watch the team lose their grip without taking a timeout. Clarkson won’t foul when it’s not absolutely necessary. And, the team won’t rely on the refs to bail them out or help them.
- The Cavs take on the Thunder on Wednesday night. Let’s see if they can perform like this again.