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On Tuesday night, the Wine & Gold went toe-to-toe with the top team in the West – trading blows for four quarters before running out of gas in overtime.
Behind a career night from rookie Isaac Okoro, Cleveland rallied to tie the affair late in the fourth quarter. But the Cavs were simply outmatched in the extra session – with Phoenix outscoring them, 20-4, in OT to win its fifth straight while sending J.B. Bickerstaff’s shorthanded squad to their seventh consecutive defeat.
Tuesday’s thriller was tight throughout, with neither team leading by more than a dozen through the first four quarters – with 15 ties and 10 lead-changes along the way.
Phoenix tried to pull away late – leading by seven with 5:37 to play, but the Cavs kept coming. Okoro scored Cleveland’s final five points of regulation, tying the game at 114-apiece to send the contest to overtime. But in that final stanza, the Cavs went ice cold – shooting just 11 percent (1-of-9) from the floor while the Suns connected on 8-of-10 shots to seal the deal.
Okoro – who’d posted his career-high last week with 20 points against Toronto – eclipsed that mark by the end of the third quarter on Tuesday, leading both teams with 32 points, going 10-for-16 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from deep and a perfect 9-of-9 from the stripe, adding six assists, three boards and a steal.
Collin Sexton topped the 20-point plateau for the 15th consecutive game – while also becoming the second-youngest player in Cavs history to reach 4,000 points – following up with 29 points on 11-of-24 shooting, going 5-of-7 from the stripe to go with seven boards and a team-high seven assists.
Jarrett Allen went 7-of-11 from the floor for 17 points, adding eight boards and five assists while Kevin Love led both teams with 11 rebounds in the loss. Cedi Osman rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 16 points, adding five boards and four helpers.
Devin Booker scored 15 of his team-high 31 points in the game’s opening quarter while Suns’ MVP candidate Chris Paul orchestrated the game as only he can – handing out a game-high 16 assists to go with 23 points, four steals and a pair of blocks.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Cedi Osman drives to the hoop and drops a pass off to a waiting Jarrett Allen who catches and dunks with one hand along the baseline.
There are times when an entire quarter – or in this case, half of one – explains the final outcome.
Coach Bickerstaff admitted postgame that his team simply ran out of gas in Tuesday’s overtime period after rallying their way back through almost the entire fourth quarter.
In the extra session, the Wine & Gold didn’t get on the board until the 1:35 mark on a Collin Sexton layup. By then, the Suns had run off the first 15 points of the period. By the time Cleveland scored again – on a pair of free throws by Mfiondu Kabengele – Monty Williams had already emptied his bench for the night.
By the Numbers - 16.3 … points per game that Isaac Okoro is averaging over his last six games, notching double-figure scoring in each – a career-best – shooting 47 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the stripe while checking the opponents’ toughest perimeter threat on a nightly basis.
"He carried us, he definitely carried us down the stretch – especially when we weren’t making any shots. He brought that energy that we needed and did his thing. You can see, he’s getting better with each and every game, each and every possession. Down the stretch, he was cramping a little bit, but he continued to fight through it and he finished strong. He puts the time in, he puts the work in and I’m definitely proud of his performance tonight."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
After leaving a ton on the floor in Tuesday night’s overtime loss to the Suns, the sledding doesn’t get any easier on Wednesday, with Damian Lillard and the Blazers rolling in to wrap up the five-game homestand.
Following the matchup against Portland, the Wine & Gold play a home-and-home series against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks – traveling to the Big D on Friday night before returning home to tip off the final homestand of the season against them on Sunday.
On Monday, the Pacers make their final Cleveland appearance of the year followed by a visit from the Celtics on Wednesday to wrap up the Cavs home schedule for the season.