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Final Score: Cavs falter late and fall to Kings 116-112

Troubles at the free throw line and poor late-game execution cost Cleveland the game Wednesday.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A triple-double from LeBron James and 41 combined points from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were not enough for a Cavs win, as Cleveland fell to Sacramento 116-112 at home Wednesday. It marked the Cavs’ sixth loss in their last eight games.

After failing to close out the game in the fourth quarter, the Cavs headed into overtime tied with the Kings at 104-104. The Cavs jumped out to a 111-106 lead in overtime thanks to back-to-back baskets from Irving and a 3-pointer from Love. Four straight points from DeMarcus Cousins and a jumpshot from Darren Collison gave Sacramento the 112-111 lead with 0:35 remaining.

A bad foul from Cousins sent Love to the line for a chance to take the lead. Love, however, split the pair of free throws, so instead of leading by one, the Cavs were tied with the Kings again. On the ensuing Kings possession, Kyle Korver inexplicably came from the weak side to double Cousins on the block, leaving Aaron Afflalo open. Cousins found Afflalo, and Afflalo sank the open 3-pointer to give Sacramento the 115-112 lead with just 0:17 left.

The Cavaliers turned it over on their next possession, and Cousins sank one of two free throws to make it a four point lead and ice the game.

The two most glaring issues for the Cavs Wednesday were turnovers and missed free throws. The Cavs turned the ball over 18 times in the loss, and they went just 17-34 from the free throw line. In addition to Love’s crucial miss, Irving also missed a free throw late in the fourth quarter that would have given the Cavs a three point lead with 0:12 left. Instead, Sacramento sent the game into overtime on a Cousins layup.

Cousins led the Kings with 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Irving finished with 20 points on 9-19 shooting.

There was a brief moment in the fourth quarter where it appeared as though the Cavs were on the verge of making a serious run and putting the game away. With the Cavs leading 92-87, a series of deflections led to a runout and a two-handed slam for James. Then after a defensive stop, James found Korver for a 3-pointer to give the Cavs the 97-87 lead with 7:43 to go in the game.

James finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, his second triple-double in two games.

By the 4:07 mark, however, the Kings had claimed a 98-97 lead thanks to six points from DeMarcus Cousins and a pair of baskets from Darren Collison and Aaron Afflalo.

The Cavs’ inconsistency was a major issue all night, as they had several opportunities to close out the Kings and get a much-needed win but were unable to do so.

It looked as though the Cavs were headed for yet another uninspired start Wednesday. Cleveland’s first five possessions led to three turnovers and three missed shots, and Sacramento led 10-0 when Tyronn Lue took a timeout with 8:58 left in the first quarter. Coming out of the timeout the Cavs strung together three straight stops and three quick baskets to make it 10-6 and to force the Kings to call a timeout of their own. The Kings timeout did little to slow the Cavs down, as Cleveland outscored Sacramento 26-12 to close out the quarter.

Holding a 26-22 lead, the Cavaliers started the second quarter with James, Kay Felder, Korver, James Jones and Channing Frye on the floor. Continuing with the recent trend, the lineup comprised of bench players and LeBron struggled. While watching Felder orchestrate the offense, it was fairly obvious why James has been pressing Cleveland’s front office to acquire a second playmaker. The rookie point guard went just 1-4 from the free throw line and turned it over twice while picking up two personal fouls in four minutes in the second quarter.

Even after Felder subbed out for Irving, the Cavs still looked disjointed. Their effort—as it has been over the last seven games—was uneven throughout the second quarter. They turned the ball over six times, and the defensive intensity and pace that helped Cleveland take the lead in the first quarter went missing. On top of that, the Cavaliers went just 6-14 from the free throw line in the first half.

Add all that up, and it’s no surprise that the Kings led 53-47 at halftime. The one positive for the Cavaliers from the first half was that they held Cousins in check, as he went just 2-9 from the floor and scored five points in the first half. Sacramento got healthy contributions elsewhere with Darren Collison and Garrett Temple combining for 22 first half points.

Cleveland will be back on the floor Friday when the Brooklyn Nets come to the Q.