The good news: The Cavs helped their draft odds on Saturday night. The bad news: That required losing. Again.
On Saturday, the Cavs lost to the Hawks 111-108 in their final game of 2019. The loss drops them to 8-29 on the season, further cementing themselves as the worst team in the NBA. And by losing to Atlanta, Cleveland is now four games ahead of Atlanta atop of the draft boards.
The positives from the game: Cedi Osman set a new career-high with 22 points and played as well as he has since the first week of the season. Collin Sexton, in a showcase against fellow rookie point guard Trae Young, scored 18 points and tied a career-high with six assists. Larry Nance Jr. added 18 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. All in all, that’s not a bad night of work for the players Cleveland hopes will help lead it into the future.
The Cavs did, however, have chances to win this game. They led by three points after one, and could have led by more if not for a 5-0 Hawks run to end the quarter. Atlanta, though, outscored the Cavs by nine in the second quarter. The Cavs ultimately were down by 10 heading into the fourth quarter and trailed by as many 15 points.
And yet, they had a chance to win it late. But key mistakes cost the Cavs a shot. With 1:18 left in the game, the Cavs got within one point when Jordan Clarkson hit Osman in stride running down the court. Osman dunked, drew the foul, but missed the free throw.
Then, with 33.5 to go, Alec Burks couldn’t inbound the ball and turned it over. And with 6.1 seconds to go, just after a Burks foul gave the Hawks free throws, Clarkson left a three-pointer short. And that was that.
Long term, this loss works for the Cavs. But in the moment, it’s another tough loss to swallow in a season full of them.
The Cavs next play on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at home against the Heat. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.