Wrap-Up — After winning their first two games of the season, the Cavaliers – regardless of lineup change – have followed a familiar script. And for the third time in the last four outings, the script produced an unhappy ending.
Once again, the Cavaliers allowed their opponent a big first quarter, fell behind by double-digits through much of the first half and saw their second-half rally fall short – dropping the 123-101 decision to the Pelicans on Saturday night at the Smoothie King Center.
The Cavaliers also followed a familiar script in the Big Easy, dropping their seventh straight game in the bayou.
Four Pelicans starters – DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore – combined for 112 of New Orleans’ 123 points. (The fifth starter, Dante Cunningham, finished with two points on 1-for-2 shooting.)
The Pelicans shot 61 percent in the first quarter and the Wine & Gold found themselves down 13 early. The Cavaliers outscored New Orleans by seven in the third period, but the starters barely had the opportunity to play in the fourth, dropping their third game in the last four outings.
Derrick Rose was a late scratch after early indications hinted he was ready to return from a left ankle injury. Iman Shumpert got the nod in his place, but was largely ineffective as Cleveland fell to 1-3 without their opening night starter at the point.
Most teams have difficulty with New Orleans’ All-Star duo down low – and that was the case for the Cavaliers on Saturday night – with Davis leading all scorers with 30 points and Cousins right behind with 29.
But it was the Pelicans backcourt that bit the Wine & Gold in New Orleans – with Holiday going off for 29 points and Moore adding 24. The Cavaliers starting backcourt of Shumpert and the struggling J.R. Smith combined for just eight points.
The Cavaliers were paced by Kevin Love, who doubled-up for the fifth time in six games this season – finishing with 26 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 5-of-6 from long-distance, to go with 11 boards in just 27 minutes of action.
LeBron James didn’t play the fourth quarter but still finished with 18 points, five boards and a team-high eight assists.
Dwyane Wade was solid again off the bench – going 7-for-12 from the floor for 15 points, four assists and a pair of steals.
KLove tallies double-double and LeBron scores 18 points as the Cavs fall in NOLA.
New Orleans dominated the Cavaliers down low – outscoring them, 70-38, in the paint and 10-5 on second chance opportunities. Cleveland also committed 17 turnovers that the Pelicans converted into 25 points.
Turning Point — The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and went into the halftime locker room down 13.
But they began heating up after intermission. LeBron opened the scoring with a three-pointer and Kevin Love capped Cleveland’s comeback – drilling three straight three-pointers that gave Cleveland its first lead, 73-72, with 5:52 to play in the third.
But that was about as good as it would get on Saturday night. About a minute later, Love tied the game at 75-apiece with a short jumper. But the Pelicans would close the quarter on a 14-8 run and not look back.
By the Numbers – 13.0, .632, 4.0. 1.5 … points, field goal percentage (12-of-19), assists and steals Dwyane Wade is averaging in two games since coming off the bench.
Quotable – Kevin Love, on the third quarter and why the Cavs haven’t been able to put it all together …
”We were playing with a lot of confidence, guys were shooting their shots, not thinking twice about it. When we play like that we’re tough. We haven’t put together a 48-minute span of that type of basketball, so it’s gonna take little bit of time, but we still have to find ways to win these games”
Up Next — After taking one on the chin at the Smoothie King Center, the Wine & Gold return to The Q for a pair – closing out the month of October with a Sunday night matchup with the Knicks and welcoming the Pacers to Cleveland for the first time this season. On Friday, it’s the Cavaliers’ toughest road test of the season, a matchup with the Wizards that’ll be labeled the proverbial “barometer game.” It’s right back to Quicken Loans Arena for two more – a Sunday afternoon meeting (Nov. 5) with the Hawks and a Tuesday night showdown against the Greek Freak and Co.
Calls of the Game