Rudderless Cavs fall anew
The Cleveland Cavaliers have now surrendered three straight losses after dropping a close one to the Atlanta Hawks at home. With key rotation players returning, the Cavs were much more competitive but fell just short, 121-118.
Without two of the best playmakers sidelined, the Cavaliers looked to their towering frontline led by Kevin Love. The five-time All-Star forward nailed seven triples en route to a season-high 35 points to go with 11 rebounds off the bench.
The returning Jarrett Allen also picked up where he left off prior to being placed on health and safety protocols, scoring 21 points in his first game back. Meanwhile, rookie Evan Mobley matched his Tower City partner’s totals of eight rebounds and three blocks to go with 16 points of his own.
But being without both Darius Garland (health and safety protocols) and Ricky Rubio, who suffered an unfortunate season-ending knee injury against the Pelicans, Cleveland once again struggled to run the offense that gave them much success thus far into the season.
Cleveland blew a 16-point advantage from the second quarter after allowing Atlanta to drop 40 points in the third period alone. Behind the leadership of All-Star guard Trae Young (35 points), the Hawks eventually pulled ahead in the fourth period to hold on to the win.
The Cavs anticipates point guard help
With Garland still out due to COVID protocols, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff inserted reserve Kevin Pangos into the starting line-up for the second consecutive game, but the Euroleague veteran again struggled to hit his shots from deep, including the potential game-tying attempt in the end.
Having two of their best guards in Rubio and Collin Sexton already being out for the remainder of the season, the Cavs have acquired veteran floor general Rajon Rondo from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for reserve guard Denzel Valentine.
Now only four games above .500, Cleveland is glad to have many of the core back in action but still needs some help from the point, a need Rondo can immediately fill once he is able to join the team.
The Cavaliers will continue with the three-game homestand as they hope to give a rude welcome to the Indiana Pacers on January 2, and the Memphis Grizzlies on the 4th.