Jet-lagged Cavs drop 5th straight, fall to Knicks 106-86

Tristan Thompson pulls down 22 rebounds in the loss they called "an outlier"

Daryl Ruiter
January 20, 2020 - 7:20 pm
Tristan Thompson

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Cavaliers looked like a team coming off a 10-day road trip Monday evening as they returned home to play for the first time in nearly two weeks.

They talked like an exhausted bunch after the game as well.

Cleveland shot just 34% as Kevin Love, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combined to shoot just 14 of 54 from the field in a 106-86 loss to the New York Knicks, their fifth straight defeat.

“We just didn’t have it,” head coach John Beilein said.  

It was their fifth game in eight days.

“We just keep preaching to the young guys, ‘Just have to get through it,’” Love said.

Sexton led six Cavs in double figures with 17 points and Tristan Thompson scored 13 points and pulled down 22 rebounds in the loss.

“It’s always tough after a west coast trip to play the next game at home,” Thompson said. “It’s always like that, especially a 5 o’clock game. But, no excuses. You’ve got to go out there and play, same thing like them. They came out and played.”

Larry Nance Jr. scored a dozen off the bench and had 10 rebounds tried to put an ugly day at the office in perspective.

“This is a team we should be very competitive with and we’re looking at this as an outlier,” Nance said. “I’m not looking at our young talent going like, ‘Man, you guys shouldn’t have let this happen.’ This was a team thing and if you live on a game-by-game basis here, you’ll drive yourself crazy. So we’re not trippin’ over this game.

“Everybody has bad days. Teams have bad days and today was one of our bad days. Obviously a loss hurts, nobody wants to lose, but at the same time it’s not debilitating. It’s not crippling.”

Every player in head coach John Beilein’s regular rotation that played significant minutes registered a negative plus-minus Monday.

New York took control of the game in the third quarter when the Cavs went ice cold hitting just five of 25 shots and scoring 14 points to fall behind by 15, 79-64 and a 36-point second half did not help the hometown team’s cause one bit.

“[The] Knicks came out [in the] third quarter, made shots and we didn’t,” Thompson said. “So it’s nothing too deep. It’s just simple, they made shots, we didn’t.”

Love found himself counseling Sexton after the game. His message was pretty simple.

“Even Collin was pretty hard on himself tonight and I just said, ‘Hey man, it’s like that sometimes,’” Love said. “I had games not only early in my career but later too that you don’t necessarily have your legs, the ball doesn’t necessarily go down. I told him, ‘Look at me the last four or five games, I’ve had so many damn shots go in and out it’s just like that sometimes.’”

Climbing the ladder – Love hit a 3 early the fourth quarter, his 724th 3 with the Cavs, which moved him into third place all-time in franchise history, passing Kyrie Irving.

“That’s amazing,” Love said. “There’s some great names there. Hopefully I can keep climbing up the charts.

“Passing Kyrie, that’s a big name and just wish it would’ve been in a win.”

Lottery life – The victory for the Knicks tied them with the Cavs at 12-32 in the East standings.

“Our guys aren’t giving into the record,” Beilein said prior to the game. “We’re competing. We’re playing hard. We’re getting smarter every game, other teams are too, but I like the growth that we’ve made.”

Only Golden State (10-34) and Atlanta (10-33) have worse records.

The top-three worst teams will net the best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery in May, unfortunately this year there doesn’t appear to be a college superstar waiting in June.

Shorthanded – Beilein only had 10 players available to him Monday afternoon including a pair of two-way players.

Brandon Knight (sore left knee), Ante Zizic (illness), Kevin Porter Jr. (left knee sprain), and John Henson (lower back soreness) were all unavailable.

“We’re down in numbers but [it’s the] ultimate next man up game for us to play,” Beilein said.

Hang around – The Cavs announced prior to the game that they signed forward Tyler Cook to a second 10-day contract.

Cook, signed to his first 10-day deal Jan. 9, has appeared in eight games this season and is averaging 2.1 points in 3.6 minutes per contest.