It was a forgettable MLK Day for the Cavaliers, as they continued to get skunked by the Bulls this season (now 0-3). Losing by double digits is nothing new for this team… but losing by double digits to the second worst team in the League? Yikes.
Cleveland definitely won the tank battle, as they showed just how much separates them from even the other cellar-dwellers in the NBA, while handing Chicago their first wire-to-wire victory of the season. This wasn’t exactly much of a challenging feat for the Bulls, since the Cavs stunk up the joint by missing their first nine shots of the game. If not for a brief shooting surge by Collin Sexton (who scored eight straight during the stretch), the first quarter would have been in the running for lowest scoring of the season.
The Cavs simply dug themselves too deep a hole, falling behind 31-18 after one. The bench did their best to clear the air in the second quarter (minus some stinker turnovers by Jordan Clarkson), as they scored all but two of the 24 points in the period. Channing Frye and Cameron Payne brought some freshness to the Cavs’ perimeter shooting, as they helped bring the percentages up close to 40%. They somehow cut the lead to just six at the half, 48-42.
The third quarter was relatively competitive, as Sexton and Ante Zizic hit a few, though the Cavs continued to struggle when guarding the perimeter. The Bulls made a ton of threes to keep their advantage, while the Cavs couldn’t seem to buy one. The defense of Jaron Blossomgame in the paint was one of the few highlights, as were a couple of Cedi Osman drives to the basket. The wine & gold remarkably still only trailed by single digits at the end of three, 76-67.
Just when you thought maybe the Cavs could make a fourth quarter surge at home… they surrendered a 14-2 run in the first few minutes of the frame to effectively snuff out that hope. Both Sexton and Zizic had some nice plays down the stretch to keep it from being a complete blowout, but the Cavs still fell pretty convincingly at home by 16 points.
I didn’t realize this until I saw this Tweet, but man… this is the definition of getting skunked…
Cavs' starting PF has 0 rebounds.
Cavs' starting PG has 0 assists.
Not good. #Cavs
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) January 21, 2019
The 0-9 skunking to start the game created a stinky hole from which the Cavs could never crawl out.
The 10-0 skunking to start the fourth quarter ended any hope to a comeback.
The trio of Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Matthew Dellavedova were almost collectively skunked from the field as they went 1-7, 1-8 and 1-6 respectively. None of those makes were threes.
Jordan Clarkson was also skunked on threes (0-5), and had some positively rank turnovers (5), including one where he drop kicked a dribble 10 feet out of bounds.
The Cavs again got savaged at the arc, allowing the Bulls to shoot 15-30 (50%) from three… while they themselves shot just 6-27 (22%).
Sexton wasn’t great in the middle two quarters, but was the Cavs’ most effective scorer with 17 points (7-17, 2-6 from deep), and showed some energy at least. He still had zero dimes.
Ante Zizic has done a pretty decent job of filling in for the injured Larry Nance, Jr. and Tristan Thompson. He had another double digit scoring game (13 points) and was one board shy of a double double. The big man has some nice moves, but still struggles with receiving passes on the move.
Jaron Blossomgame can’t really shoot (3-8), but he did hustle on D and was one of only two Cavs in the positives for the game (+8).
Channing Frye played some quality minutes, and knocked down almost every shot he took (3-4, 2-2 from deep). Maybe he should have received more opportunities?
Cameron Payne was the other Cav in the positives (+2), and seemed inspired against his former team. He didn’t shoot all that well (4-11, 1-5 from three), but he did a lot of little things with four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
Watching this game wouldn’t have been my first choice of ways to spend my day off in observance of MLK Day, as it was just as hard on the eyes as it sounds. There are incremental reasons to be semi-optimistic about Sexton, Cedi, Ante and maybe even Payne… but the rest of these guys seem destined for other opportunities. Injuries stink, but the play lately has also stunk… particularly the shooting, passing and defending of the perimeter. Here’s hoping the Cavs get healthier and easier to watch as we go along on this march to Zion. In the meantime, here’s another quote from Dr. King to keep our heads up…
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”