For a quarter, the Cavs played like a team that looked like it might be able to pick up another win against a Nuggets team on the second half of a back-to-back.
The problem: The Cavs had to play three more quarters. And all three went poorly.
After outscoring Denver 27-15 in the first quarter, Cleveland was down 50-42 at halftime en route to a 110-91 Thursday night loss at home. They are now 1-7 on the season.
Jordan Clarkson led the Cavs with 17 points. Cedi Osman added 13 points and three rebounds. Collin Sexton finished with 11 points off the bench.
The Cavs’ first quarter was defined largely by the Nuggets’ inability to get into a groove on offense. The Cavs, turning to a more conservative defense scheme without switching, largely rotated and hung with a Nuggets offense that typically carves up opponents. Denver finished the quarter shooting 35.3 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three.
But then the Cavs got back to being the Cavs and the Nuggets got back to being the Nuggets. The Cavs were outscored 35-15 in the second quarter, erasing one of their best quarters of the season. In the third quarter, Cleveland only lost by nine points — a sad improvement that had them down by 17 heading into the fourth.
Denver pushed its lead up to as many as 26 in the fourth quarter with the likes of Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and Jamal Murray spending most of the quarter on the bench. To beat the Cavs, the Nuggets didn’t even need their best players to have standout performances. Jokic, their best player, finished his night with just four points and three assists in 22 minutes.
Thursday’s loss pushes the Cavs back into the cellar below the 1-6 Wizards. They have trailed by 20 points or more in six of their eight games this season. They get their next chance at a win on Saturday when they head to Charlotte to face the Hornets. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.