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Through the first part of the season, the Cavaliers starting backcourt had done much of the offensive heavy lifting. On Thursday night – their frontcourt, as well as a rookie relocated to guard – helped Cleveland pull out the win.
All three frontcourt players had big nights- and Isaac Okoro, in just his second game back after missing the previous five, made critical plays on both ends of the floor late as the Cavs held on to snap their two-game skid, hanging on for the 94-90 win in Memphis.
Joining the cavalcade of injured teammates, Collin Sexton was a late scratch on Thursday with a sprained left ankle – the first game he’s missed after starting his career with 155 straight. With Sexton – and Darius Garland (shoulder) – out, J.B. Bickerstaff had to get creative with his lineup, moving Cedi Osman into the starting lineup and starting Okoro at shooting guard.
Thursday’s game was back-and-forth all night. Neither team lead by double-figures at any point and there were nine ties and 12 lead-changes.
The game was knotted at 88-apiece when Osman drilled a three-pointer to give Cleveland the lead.
Memphis proceeded to cut the Cavs’ edge to just a single point with 33.5 seconds to play and looked to take a lead when Tyus Jones took a long outlet pass from Kyle Anderson and drove for what looked like an uncontested layup. But Okoro chased him down and blocked the shot. The swat was originally ruled goaltending, but changed after a Cleveland challenge.
After winning the jump, and clinging to that one-point lead, Andre Drummond fed Okoro on a beautiful cut to the basket – and with 10.6 seconds remaining, the rookie dunked home the deciding bucket.
The Cavaliers were led by Andre Drummond, who doubled-up for the ninth straight game to start the season, finishing with 22 points and a game-high 15 boards, going 9-of-20 from the floor, adding three assists – including the big dime to Okoro – and a pair of steals in the win.
The only way Larry Nance Jr. could have had a better night would’ve been had he attempted more shots. The 5th-year man from Wyoming tallied 18 points, three boards, four assists and three steals – canning all seven field goal attempts from the floor, including all four three-pointers.
Cedi pitched in with 16 points, going 6-of-19 from the floor, 4-of-11 from deep – including the late bomb to give Cleveland its final lead – adding five boards and a team-high seven assists.
JaVale McGee had another outstanding night off the bench – netting 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, adding six boards and a steal.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
After blocking a shot on the defensive end, Isaac Okoro puts the game on ice with a dunk off of an Andre Drummond feed to put the Cavs up for good on the Grizzlies.
One of the biggest keys to winning on the road is how a team ends quarters, even if the run seems inconsequential at the time.
Near the end of the third quarter, Desmond Bane’s three-pointer gave Memphis a seven-point edge, 67-60. The Cavaliers, battling a 10-day road trip and down six rotation players, could have withered. Instead, they closed the period on a 7-2 run and tied the game on JaVale McGee’s layup to start the fourth.
That final quarter alone would feature three more ties and three more lead-changes.
By the Numbers – 1 … Cavaliers in team history who have gone at least 7-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-4 from three-point range in the same game – Larry Nance Jr on Thursday night in Memphis.
"We just kept playing. We knew it was going to be an ugly game, a real sloppy one due to guys being in positions they haven’t been in before. We just had fun. We grinded the game out and that was a great win for us."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
After Thursday’s white-knuckle win in Memphis, the Cavaliers finally wrap up their longest roadie of the first half – traveling to Milwaukee for a Central Division showdown against the Greek Freak and his band of Bucks.
Following their return home, the Wine & Gold welcome a pair of Western Conference foes to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for an early-week back-to-back – a rematch against these same Grizzlies on Monday night before Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz roll in the next night. Cleveland wraps up the mini-homestand against the Knicks next Friday.