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Thursday’s loss was a tough one to digest.
The Cavaliers have taken on some of the weaker teams in the Conference over their last three outings, and they haven’t fared well – dropping their second straight home contest and sixth straight overall – falling to the Wizards, 124-112, on Thursday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Despite strong individual outings from Collin Sexton, Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Love, the Wine & Gold didn’t put up much resistance against the Wizards – who dropped an overtime contest in Miami the previous evening.
The Cavaliers led by as many as a dozen in the first quarter, but once the Wizards took back the lead to end the period, Cleveland was never able to claw its way back – trailing by double-digits through much of the final three quarters.
Washington’s leading scorer, Bradley Beal, went off for 38 points in Wednesday night’s loss in Miami but still had plenty in the tank for Cleveland – leading both squads with 36 points on 15-for-22 shooting, including 4-of-8 from long-range, to go with a game-high eight assists.
The Cavaliers were paced once again by Sexton, who finished with 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and 7-of-7 from the stripe, adding four boards, four assists and a game-high three steals.
Nance hit his first seven shots off the bench and finished with a career-high-tying 22 points, finishing 10-of-14 from the field, drilling both three-pointers he attempted and leading both squads with 12 rebounds.
Love chipped in with 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting, adding five boards and a pair of assists.
Darius Garland was the only other Cavalier in double-figures, finishing with 13 points despite struggling to shoot the ball – going just 4-of-17 from the floor to go with four assists in the loss.
Cedi Osman led the Cavaliers with five assists.
Both Ish Smith and Davis Bertans notched 17 points off Washington’s bench, which outscored the Wine & Gold’s second unit, 59-34.
Sexton rounds the corner before throwing down the hard one-handed slam in the third.
It’s not usually a good thing when the game’s turning point comes in the second half of the first quarter.
Cleveland led by 12 with 7:51 to play in the period on Collin Sexton’s fastbreak dunk, but that would be the Wine & Gold’s high-water mark on Thursday. From there, Washington proceeded to go on a 13-0 run to take the lead.
After Cleveland tied the game at 22-apiece, the Wizards scored seven of the period’s final nine points, taking a five-point edge into the second quarter and slowly inching away from there.
.706 … Larry Nance Jr.’s field goal percentage over his last four games – going 24-of-34 from the floor over that span – averaging 13.5 points and 8.3 boards per in the process.
Nance posted his first two double-doubles of the season in back-to-back games on Monday and Thursday.
Tristan Thompson, on the Wine and Gold’s recent woes …
"You always have high expectations for your team. But the reality is that we’re at where we’re at. We have to keep plugging away, keep pushing through. That’s all we can do. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves; no one’s going to feel sorry for us. Teams know they can be physical with us and if they move the ball a lot, they can get in our paint."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega's Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
The Cavaliers close out the month of January with three of their last four at home – beginning with a Saturday night visit from the Bulls to close out the homestand.
On Monday night, the Cavs make their final visit to Motown when they take on Andre Drummond and the Pistons before returning home for a Tuesday night meeting against the Pelicans – featuring the Cleveland debut of Zion Williamson. On Thursday night, the Cavs wrap up the month when they welcome Pascal Siakam and the Raptors to town.