Comeback Falls Short, Cavs Finally Fall in Vegas

The Wine and Gold finally dropped their first game in Summer League play, falling – 96-90 – to Houston on Thursday night in Vegas. But they gave the Rockets all they could handle – and the crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center more than their money’s worth.

The first half of Thursday’s tournament opener featured ten ties and 13 lead-changes, but behind a red-hot Isaiah Canaan, Houston opened up a 13-point edge in the third quarter. Still, the Cavaliers kept coming and cut it to a one-possession game with 1:08 to play.

Houston pushed its lead back up to eight – 95-87 – with 8.3 remaining, but rookie Joe Harris canned a long three to make it interesting. The Cavs were forced to foul on the next possession and Houston’s Robert Covington split the free throws to put the affair just out of reach – and put Cleveland one game away from heading home.

Thursday’s highly-entertaining contest featured some stellar individual performances by both Andrew Wiggins and Will Cherry.

As the top pick in this June's Draft, Wiggins has been as advertised – and 19-year-old swingman was rock-solid again on Thursday night. Cherry, who went undrafted one year ago, continued to be the Cavaliers’ Summer League surprise.

Wiggins was just 3-of-5 from the floor, but his aggressive play sent him to the line 20 times, where he drained 15 free throws. The former Jayhawk added five boards and a blocked shot in a team-high 31 minutes.

“I thought Andrew did a real nice job,” praised Coach David Blatt. “You know what you have to like about a kid like that – it doesn’t matter if it’s the fourth game of Summer League or his fourth game in seven days or if people are keying on him or if the crowd has funny things to say to him. He just goes out there and plays and has a nice calm about him and real good demeanor. Andrew's gonna be a high-level player.”

Cherry, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over San Antonio, went off after intermission again on Thursday – netting 18 of his 21 points in the second stanza. The compact point guard from Montana, who came to Vegas as a roster invitee and got the start with Matthew Dellavedova departing to join his Australian national team, went 8-for-14 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the stripe to go with four boards and three assists.

Two other Cavaliers notched double-figures against Houston. Anthony Bennett struggled from the floor, going 4-of-11 for 11 points, but led all starters with six boards and a steal.

Joe Harris was an economical 3-of-6 from the field and canned both three-point attempts, adding a board, a steal and an assist in 23 minutes of action.

The Cavs also got a couple solid efforts off the bench on Thursday. Shane Edwards followed up his double-double against Philly with a 4-for-4 performance against the Rockets, netting eight points, two boards, two steals and an assist in just 15 minutes of play. Second year guard Carrick Felix finished with seven points, seven boards and a block – drilling a pair of three-pointers.

The Rockets were paced by Canaan, who led both teams with 28 points – going 10-of-16 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from long-distance. On Canaan’s final three-pointer, he looked over playfully to Kyrie Irving, who was seated next to Dan Gilbert near mid-court. The two exchanged good-natured barbs as Canaan crossed the time-line. Houston forward Donatas Motiejunas doubled-up with 21 points and 11 boards.

Cleveland shot 46 percent from the floor and outscored Houston on the break. But the Rockets bested the Wine and Gold in the paint, outscoring them, 40-28.

The Cavaliers wrap up a successful Summer League stint and try to head home with a win as they take on Miami to close out tournament play on Friday night at 7 p.m. PT.