It brings me great sadness to report that the longest winning streak in the NBA is still alive: The Phoenix Suns have defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 120–115 and pushed the Cavs’ losing streak to 5 games.
The first half provided a delightful (albeit indirect, matchup-wise) duel. Devin Booker came out hotter than a...what’s a word for a giant, incandescent plasma spheroid floating in space? Ah, well. Anyway, Booker made all 7 of his field goal attempts in the first quarter and stayed hot en route to a 24-point first half. But Jarrett Allen largely matched Booker with 18 points and 9 boards on 7-for-7 shooting, and the lead stood at just three for Phoenix after one.
The Cavs weren’t quite as sharp in the second half, though. They missed a hearty handful of layups (Garland and Ricky Rubio struggled to finish in particular), Allen couldn’t keep it going (just 7 points in the second half) and the Suns turned a five-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead. Cedi Osman was fantastic in his first game back from injury (23 points, 5 threes) and almost single handedly willed the Cavaliers back into the game in the fourth, but he was no match for Chris Paul and the fourth-quarter Suns.
This game was played at the Suns’ pace, and it was certainly jarring to see a team as laborious as the Cavs — they’re 25th in pace — running with the fourth-fastest team in the league. But they handled the speed well and, as a result, recorded their highest-scoring first half of the season with 66 points. They even won the turnover battle (particularly impressive against Paul and the Suns) despite Darius Garland struggling with foul trouble and ultimately fouling out. Yeah yeah, something something no moral victories. But for a brutally injured young team with a brutally brutal schedule, the Cavs have rarely felt truly out of a game this season, and that feels like it should count for something.
Up next: The Cavs play their third(!!!) game against a team that didn’t make last year’s playoffs/play-in when the Orlando Magic come to Cleveland on Saturday. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.