Cavs crumble late in New Orleans
The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a late collapse against the New Orleans Pelicans on the road due in part to losing Ricky Rubio to an apparent knee injury. Despite leading for most of the game, the Cavs crumbled late to lose, 108-104.
Rubio had been leading the way with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists before going down to injury with 2:20 left in the game, needing to be helped carried off the court by his teammates.
Cleveland actually went off to a solid start after welcoming back rookie Evan Mobley and defensive ace Isaac Okoro, leading by as much as 23 early. They were ahead for more than three and a half quarters before sputtering and allowing the Pelicans to go ahead with 3:18 remaining in the game.
The Cavs had a few more chances but failed to execute thanks in part to being without a true point guard on the floor.
Kevin Love added a pair of triples towards the end, but it was too little, too late. He finished with 24 markers off 7-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc, while rookie Mobley added 22 in his return.
Cavs need better luck with staying healthy
Already decimated by COVID, the Cavaliers were happy to be able to immediately activate both Mobley and Okoro, but also lost their best player Darius Garland just a few hours prior to tipoff.
Jarrett Allen, Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, Dylan Windler, Ed Davis, and RJ Nembhard, also remain out to health and safety protocols, but the biggest blow was definitely losing their most stabilizing presence in the veteran Rubio.
Now 20-14, Cleveland remains very much alive in the hunt for a playoff spot but has fallen a few places since overtaking the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks a week ago in a very tightly contested Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers will look to end the year on a high note as they visit the Washington Wizards on December 30, before ringing in New Year’s Eve at home against the Atlanta Hawks.