Recap: Hornets 110, Cavs 99 (Or, Getting Sandbagged)

Kemba Walker and the Hornets came out and sandbagged the Cavs tonight. Whether intentional or not, it worked. Cleveland controlled the game for the first 19 minutes and nine seconds. No more, no less. Charlotte then went on to outscore the Cavs by 16 in the second half. After scoring 41 in the first half, they scored 41 in the third quarter alone.

During the first stretch of the game, the Wine & Gold held Charlotte to just 40.6% shooting and one 3-pointer. The Hornets had seven turnovers, while the Cavs had two. Charlotte’s offense was forced, and the Cavs stayed in front of them. Cleveland gave up their first totally uncontested shot at the one minute mark in the first when Willy Hernangomez ended up with no man between him and the rack for a dunk. Most importantly though, Kemba Walker was totally off. He was 0-7 with three assists. He just couldn’t hit a shot or get separation from anyone guarding him. The Cavs led 40-27 after that stretch.

However, that lead easily disappeared as Kemba came alive. He finished the evening with 30 points on 11-26 shooting to go with six assists and three rebounds.

Larry Nance guided the Cavs with his seven assists, 15 rebounds, and ten points. Jordan Clarkson led the Cavs in scoring with 20 points, while Jordan Blossomgame chipped in 15 points going 3-4 from deep. Jeremy Lamb and Marvin Williams both put up 18 for the Hornets going 8-16 and 8-13 respectively.

It really wasn’t hard to see that the Cavs would struggle later in the game. In the first quarter, they started out very lucky hitting  six of their first seven shots, which were mostly of the mid-range variety. The shots game out of some movement, but they weren’t necessarily smart shots or what the plays were probably designed to give. Later in the quarter, the Cavs offense did look fluid; they actively ran and tried to get early action. Alec Burks was exceptional at creating early shots. With 3:39 to go, Collin Sexton grabbed a steal, Burks then quickly got the ball up to Ante Zizic for an easy layup. A few plays later Burks grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup. He was fouled, but couldn’t convert the freebie. He had eight points and six assists when the game ended. The Cavs headed into the second quarter up, 25-16.

The Cavs started the second quarter with a flurry of Nance . Nance went to the line to start the action after rolling and grabbing a Clarkson pass in traffic. A few possessions later, Burks used a Nance screen and weaved his way to the rack for an easy layup. Nance then dished an assist to Hood after freeing him with a screen for a mid-range J. He did the same for a Clarkson 3-pointer. Nance even used the threat of his passing to get up and under Hernangomez for a silky finger roll. That was the pretty stuff on offense. Once Nance checked out of the game because he picked up a third foul and the Cavs were up 13, Kemba Walker started to get hot and the Cavs offense started to get ugly.

Kemba hit his first shot with 4:51 left. He then hit four of his next five. He basically would not miss, no matter how tight the defense was. Fortunately for the Cavs, they slowed Charlotte’s 14-6 onslaught with David Nwaba, Zizic, and Burks all getting to the line. The Wine & Gold entered the locker room up, 46-41.

Charlotte came out and sealed the game in the third quarter outscoring the Cavs 41-29. Kemba absolutely showed Collin Sexton that he has so much to learn in this league as he went 6-9 for 17 points. Kemba kept using screens and just getting Sexton on his back for easy shots. No one on the Cavs stepped up to run Kemba from his spots or to slow him enough for Sexton to recover. And, if Kemba wasn’t doing what he wanted, someone else on Charlotte got too deep in the paint for the Cavs to stop them. 10 of their 18 makes were assisted on.

The Cavalier offense was actually pretty good. Cedi Osman got cooking getting 9 of his 13 points in the quarter. Nance was screening and facilitating per usual, and Blossomgame even added in two wide open 3-balls. They shot 57.1% from the floor. Yet, great offense beats out good offense. Charlotte hit five 3s and shot 69.6% from the floor!  The highlight of the quarter was when the Cavs trapped Charlotte rookie Mikal Bridges and got a slam out of it.

By the time the fourth quarter came around, the Cavs were down 82-75. They weren’t able to muster enough offense to make a comeback. They got demoralized as the Hornets didn’t let them back in. Tony Parker, yes the old French dude formerly of the Spurs, had seven points in the quarter. With 8:07 left, he came down the court and just drove in for a 3-point play. A play later, he had a circus layup. Then Kemba Walker stole the ball from Rodney Hood and Marvin Williams slammed the ball down to put the Hornets up 95-84. The Cavs called a timeout and reinserted their starters after that, but the game didn’t get any closer.  The Cavs let them get to the rim with little resistance, as the shot chart below shows.

Gripes

  1. The Cavs couldn’t keep their energy up. Early on, they covered Kemba well and he wasn’t feeling himself. Once he started to go off, they should have done more to get the ball out of his hands. They should have started trapping or placing someone other than Collin on him. A 17 point quarter for a guy should never happen.
  2. Penetration killed the Cavs. They were outscored 60-42 in the paint. There was a lot of drive and drop the ball off stuff when the defense collapsed.
  3. The Cavs also forgot to box out numerous times. They were out rebounded 51-35. The Hornets had 13 offensive boards for 13 extra points.
  4. Larry Drew needs to really get on guys for their shot selection. There were numerous times tonight when the ball was moving and a guy caught the ball outside the 3-line open. They would pass up the shot, which was fine because someone was closing out on them, only to dribble into a mid-ranger instead of going all the way to the rack. Rodney Hood was 5-11 for 12 tonight. He took just three 3s. I’d rather he doubles that number and stops dribbling two steps in from the arc.
  5. The refs were a bit ridiculous towards the end of the game. After Collin pulled up in transition for a foul-line jumper with the game out of reach, Kemba whacked him in the head. It was a no call. Collin went for a layup a few plays later and got  hit again. Larry Drew exploded after the first Kemba assault and was ejected for a proper reaction.
  6. Collin Sexton had an awful showing going 5-15 for 11 points. He had three assists to go with two turnovers. Sexton must figure out how to get deep into the paint. He can’t keep jacking up poor shots. Larry Drew needs to yank the Young Blood every time he dribbles into a long 2. It’s a bad habit at this point and needs to be stopped.
  7. The team needs to practice their post passes. Larry seems like he is going to be a large part of the offense going forward; he can only do that if the team gets him the ball. Guys need to learn the proper angles for entry passes. The Hornets poked the ball away quite a few times, and even though it didn’t always result in steals, it stalled out the offense.

Hypes

  1. When the Cavs got into their offensive sets, they looked like a professional NBA team. The ball moved very well and they had a lot of great looks. 24 of the Cavs 41 makes were assisted. They just need to practice post entry passes and not giving up when their first offensive action doesn’t yield anything.
  2. Larry Nance is going to be a steal if he keeps playing this way. A big that can get seven assists and 15 boards is an all-star. His contract extension starting next season is worth $44.8 million over a four year span. He easily could be the best contract in the NBA moving forward. He was the only Cavs with a positive +/- tonight.
  3. The Cavs competed for some time on the second game of a back-to-back because of Nance’s effort. If Matthew Dellavedova wasn’t sidelined, there’s a good chance the Cavs could have won this game.
  4. Blossomgame is showing that he might be a solid contributor. He hits open 3s. He takes open 3s. He doesn’t stall the offense. And, on defense, he isn’t the one making mistakes. That’s a role guy if there ever was one. He went 3-4 from deep. He even had a putback slam.
  5. Cedi looked decent tonight. He had two nice drives and hit a 3-pointer. He was 6-10. Hopefully Cedi can continue to round back into form.
  6. The Cavs will need him as they take on the Toronto Raptors this Friday.
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RS
Guest
RS
1 month 1 day ago

No other place for this. Zach Lowe sounding like Ben Werth but somehow he has failed to watch the return of MD. That was disappointing. I rejoined nba.com for the Cavs’ teampass only because of MD. It will be a long time before ZL comments on the Cavs again but maybe he’ll watch the recent games instead of the horror show before.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
1 month 1 day ago

AMEN SIMMO——AGREE HE NEEDS TO WORK ON HIS GAME—BUT LET’S NOT ‘CRUCIFY ” HIM—-DESTROY HIS CONFIDENCE

Jason
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Jason
1 month 2 days ago

Harden (and others) travel all the time on step backs. It is frequently 3 steps.

CP3 out with a hammy issue. Next 10 for Houston: at Miami, SA, OKC, Bos, at NO, Memphis, at GSW, at Portland, Denver, Milwaukee.

That could get ugly if CP3 misses 2 weeks or so. They may have to make a move.

MikeO
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MikeO
1 month 1 day ago

Jordan Clarkson lookin’ good out there…just sayin’…

JRL
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JRL
1 month 1 day ago

CP3 out indefinitely. Houston is done.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
1 month 1 day ago

Jordan Clarkson…just sayin’…

Nate Smith
Admin
1 month 2 days ago

Jason
Guest
Jason
1 month 2 days ago

The thing about Sexton is, his shot is about the only thing he has confidence in (with good reason). He does not finish well off drives or create well for teammates. He gets stripped or blocked a ton on drives. He has a decent 3PT shot but is not prolific or feared and most teams go under screens.

So, the intersection of a play that he has confidence in, is low risk, and is presented to him a lot, is a pull up jumper. Should more of them be 3s? Probably. But is literally the only thing he does passingly well offensively right now. If he starts turning down open shots, he serves no useful function at all.

Nate Smith
Admin
1 month 1 day ago

Which is why he should be playing in the gleague learning to play the right way instead of just developing bad habits.

Simmo
Guest
Simmo
1 month 2 days ago

Agree Jason. I wanna write a better thought-out post at some point about Sexton (it’s late here and I may have had a whiskey or two), but in a nutshell I feel like he is a rookie who through fate has ended up with an opportunity to play big minutes in his first year. In the short term, he will have some great games (we all kneel and hail) and some shockers (“he doesn’t know how to play”). But He. Is. A. Rookie. His minutes and usage recently by Drew is more appropriate, but even so I just hope that his career isn’t damaged by being unduly condemned or unsupported in his current role. This kid could really be something.

Loooooved Zizic’s game too.

Jason
Guest
Jason
1 month 2 days ago

Zizic also had a decent game.

Nate Smith
Admin
1 month 2 days ago

Nice cap David. Gotta say I was impressed with zizic. Though holy cow are the Cavs bad at feeding the post. They just had no ability to get the ball to zizic with a smaller guy on him.

It’s so hard to cover a tanking team. It’s so hard to tell if the incompetence is purposeful or accidental. But dear God Collin sexton’s shot selection. Half the the smack in the head from Kemba was his own fault for pulling up with one guy between in and the basket and waiting for like four guys to catch up to him he launched a dopey j. Also, wtf was the defense the Cavs were playing on. kemba? Colin’s help was so far back he couldn’t do anything.

MKG is gonna be a player as a big. He is a mismatch off the dribble for a guy like Zizic and can hold up to probably 80% of the league’s starters and most of the bench bigs.

Tyler zeller is a nasty illegal screen setter. However lds on every play and it’s so hard get around him.

ChrisKorvalier
Guest
ChrisKorvalier
1 month 2 days ago

Great recap, David! I think fatigue took over in the second half. I looked at the stat sheet late in the 2nd quarter, and the Hornets only had 3 offensive rebounds at that point. Cavs had 0. Delly could have been the difference in this one.

Blossomgame seems to be making the right basketball play and finding himself in the right spots much of the time. His hustle and athleticism doesn’t hurt either. I’m guessing Jones wasn’t available for this one, since he wasn’t listed on the box score. It might have been nice to get him some minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. We haven’t seen much of him since he hit 4-4 threes a few games ago.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
1 month 2 days ago

HYPES—I PREDICTED 107-99 HORNETS –( CHRYSTAL BALL WAS WORKING )—–3 STRAIGHT SOLID GAMES FOR CEDI / GOOD TO SEE………….YES -(AND I HAVE BEEN A HUGE SUPPORTER ) – YOUNG BULL HAS TO START LEARNING / WORKING ON ” THE NBA ” GAME / DON’T START CREATING BAD HABITS ——–LNJ COULD BE A PERENNIAL ALL STAR IF HE KEEPS POSTING THOSE NUMBERS / AND CONTINUES TO DEVELOP HIS GAME / OUTSIDE SHOT ……….IT AGONIZES A.C. WHEN THE BALL DOESN’T MOVE …….AND YES IF DELLY PLAYS OUR CHANCES OF GETTING A ‘W’ ARE ALOT BETTER ……….BLOSSOM (HAS ) GAME IS HUNGRY / WANTS TO STAY UP HERE / UNDERSTANDS HIS ROLE / COULD BE A SOLID BENCH / ROLE PLAYER

JudeElysium
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JudeElysium
1 month 3 days ago

Great recap. That is exactly what happened, what went wrong, what should have happened, what went right, and what could have happened.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
1 month 3 days ago

DWood…you killed this recap. Everything I was yelling at the screen you pointed out.
1. Nance doesn’t get good passes at the elbow or on the block…like…ever. Ok maybe 1/4…but those passes can make or break the action we’re trying to create as a team.
2. Blossomgame is a productive, valuable, team-first player. He is one of our crew playing for a contract…and all he has done so far is take good shots and hustle. He needs to stay.
3. Larry Drew isn’t doing Sexton ANY favors by allowing him to continue to stop for 20 footers. There genuinely are really good, effective, useful mid-range shots. There are. Sexton has taken maybe 10 the whole year though. Get to the dang hoop and get fouled or drive and kick. His ppg average is currently coasting off some really good shooting on really dumb shots.

lastly…Rodney Hood should be sent ANYWHERE for a legit pick. Burks as well. They aren’t pieces we need going forward…we need to develop Cedi, Nance, and Sexton, and allow Love to play out his contract and retire.

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