Cavs fall short at home against the powerhouse Nets
The Cleveland Cavaliers fell short of another potential upset against the Brooklyn Nets. Despite welcoming back starters Jarrett Allen and Lauri Markkanen, the reinforced Cavs team was not able to stop the skid and dropped their fourth consecutive game, 117-112.
Not that their return to the lineup hardly mattered, because the frontcourt duo really made a dent. Allen picked up where he left off with another huge double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Markkanen immediately made his presence felt with 22 points to go with eight boards.
But it may be Darius Garland who proves to be the most important player for the team.
The third-year guard looked very much like the budding star many tout him to be, finishing with 24 markers to go with 11 assists. His momentary absence midway through the third quarter also appeared to be the turning point for the game.
The motivated Cavaliers team was leading by as much as 12 midway through the quarter, but the delay in the game caused by Garland getting inadvertently struck in the face Deandre Bembry may have caused the momentum to shift completely in the Nets favor.
With Garland subbing out, Brooklyn had already taken the lead only a few minutes later following a furious rally. Cleveland remained competitive in the final period and kept the game close but once again fell short, just as in their previous meeting about a week ago.
The Cavs should try to float around .500
Following a near-upset at home against the Golden State Warriors, the Cavs found themselves in a good position to steal a win late in the game, only to fall flat on their faces at the buzzer. There is no shame in that, however.
Even after the team fell to 9-9 for the season following four-straight defeats, all those games may count as moral victories: losing in close contests to the Eastern Conference leaders twice, as a failed comeback attempt against the juggernaut Warriors, as well as another close shave against the playoff-contending Boston Celtics.
Nobody is here to make excuses for the team. But the fact of the matter is, various injuries/illnesses already knocked the Cavaliers down pretty hard this early in the season.
Collin Sexton is already out for the remainder of the season, while star rookie Evan Mobley is expected to remain out for a couple of weeks due to a sprained right elbow. But with three-fifths of the starting lineup already returning to play, Cleveland hopes to shake off this rough stretch and resume their quest to chase a playoff berth.
That might have to wait as the Cavaliers will not get a reprieve when they host the equally menacing Phoenix Suns, scorching-hot winners of their last 13 contests, at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on the 24th.