For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the good on Friday night was that Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. returned to action after injury layoffs. And that’s about it.
Against the New Orleans Pelicans, in the team’s first game after the All-Star break, the Cavs lost to the Pelicans 116-82. Love and Nance both started in their returns, with Love playing 10 minutes on a minutes restriction and Nance playing 28.
This game was never really competitive. The Cavs were within five after one, but then were outscored 35-19 in the second. In the third quarter, all Cleveland could muster was a mere 9 points. In the beatdown, the Cavs trailed the Pelicans by as many as 40 points.
Love appeared in just his third game of the season due to a calf injury he suffered way back in November. In his 10 minutes, Love scored 4 points on 1-4 shooting to go along with one rebound. He, though, didn’t look like he was all the way back just yet and it will interesting to see how the Cavs increase his minutes over the next few games.
Nance, meanwhile, started the game off strong with a three-pointer early in the game and did most of the things he did before missing 12 games due to a fractured. Playing in a brace, Nance finished with 11 points and 4 rebounds. Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 19 points on 7-18 shooting. Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram led all scorers with 28, while Zion Williamson had 23 for New Orleans.
Although Love and Nance were back, Darius Garland missed the game with a groin injury. Taurean Prince, Matthew Dellavedova and Andre Drummond were also inactive.
The loss puts the Cavs at 14-12 for the season, three games behind the cluster teams making up the eight through 10 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Were the Cavs to up to at least the 10th seed, they’d be at least involved in the play-in tournament and have a shot at making the playoffs — a goal the team has openly talked about pursuing.
Up next: The Cavs play in Atlanta on Sunday against the Hawks. Tipoff is at 7:30.