After the first quarter of Tuesday’s matchup with the Pelicans, it was a question of whether the Cavs would add to their list of double-digit wins. After the fourth quarter, the Cavs were stinging from a loss and wondering about the health of an essential piece of their early-season success.
Even without the services of their starting point guard, the Cavaliers got off to a scorching start on Tuesday – jumping out to a 23-point lead in the first quarter. But Cleveland went cold from there, with Garrett Temple catching fire in the fourth quarter and leading the Pelicans to the 108-104 comeback win in New Orleans.
The bigger picture issue came with 2:20 to play in the fourth quarter when Ricky Rubio came to an awkward stop in the paint, injuring his left knee. Rubio – who was having an outstanding game – had to be helped to Cleveland’s locker room. Following the game, he was being evaluated by the Cavs medical staff and an update is expected on Wednesday.
Already without Darius Garland – who entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Monday – the Wine and Gold became disjointed over the final two minutes when Rubio went down, falling for just the fourth time in their last 14 outings.
With the win, the Pelicans extended Cleveland’s Big Easy skid to 11 straight – a losing skein that extends back to March 2010.
The Cavaliers came out on fire on Tuesday – going 9-for-12 from long-range and finishing with 39 points after the first quarter. But they missed all 10 long-range attempts in the following period and finished 14-for-41 on the night.
Before the fourth-quarter mishap, Rubio managed to lead the Cavaliers in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots – finishing with 27 points on 10-for-25 shooting, adding a career-high-tying 13 boards, a game-high nine assists, two steals and a pair of blocks.
Kevin Love was rock-solid again, coming off the bench again after getting his first start of the season on Sunday to follow up with 24 points, going 7-for-12 from beyond the arc to go with four boards and three assists.
Evan Mobley returned from the health and safety protocol list as if the precocious rookie didn’t miss a beat – finishing with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, adding seven boards in the loss.
Lauri Markkanen rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures, chipping in with 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting, adding five boards, two assists and a pair of steals.
New Orleans’ rookie Herb Jones went off for a career-high 26 points, going 10-for-18 from the floor. All five Pelicans starters finished in double-figures and Jonas Valanciunas doubled-up with 15 points and 10 boards.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Assist from Kevin Love leads Lauri Markkanen to hammer it down against the Pelicans.
On Tuesday night, the Pelicans' Garrett Temple was a one-man turning point.
After New Orleans mitigated Cleveland’s big lead in the second and third quarters, the Pelicans blew past the Cavs in the fourth – with Temple scoring all 17 of his points in the period, going 6-of-6 from the floor, 5-of-5 from beyond the arc.
The Cavs still had a 12-point lead with just under eight minutes to play, but Temple caught fire and keyed a 13-2 run – getting the Pelicans to within one with a three-pointer at the 4:09 mark and giving them their first lead of the game less than a minute later.
Cleveland didn’t regain the lead the rest of the way.
BY THE NUMBERS
By the Numbers - 16.2, 6.9 … Kevin Love’s scoring and rebounding averages over the month of December, with 12 of his 13 appearances coming off the bench.
Over that 13-game stretch, Love’s notched double-figure scoring in all but one outing with a pair of double-doubles in the mix – shooting .484 from the floor (62-for-128), .500 from deep (46-of-92) and .930 from the stripe (40-for-43).
Kevin Love, on his concern for teammate Ricky Rubio …
”I think this team is so close, so it’s like an extended family member goes down, and it just pains you. It just hurts to see anyone go down, but especially a guy like Ricky, who has been so consistent for us and brings so much to this team for so many different reasons.”
CALLS OF THE GAME
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
The Cavaliers two-game trip wraps up on Thursday night, taking on Kyle Kuzma and the Wizards in the nation’s capital before returning home to close out the calendar year with a New Year’s Eve meeting with the Hawks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
On Sunday, Cleveland welcomes the Pacers to town and wraps up the three-game homestand with a visit from Ja Morant and the Grizzlies next Tuesday night. From there, it’s a six-game West Coast swing, with meetings against the Blazers, Warriors, Kings, Jazz, Spurs and Thunder on the mid-January slate.