The Cleveland Cavaliers fumbled a 13-point fourth-quarter lead away as the Los Angeles Clippers closed the game on a 22-6 run to grab a 120-117 victory. This was a tough pill to swallow.
Both Cavalier losses have come after fourth-quarter meltdowns.
The opening night loss to the Toronto Raptors felt eerily similar to this even though this was a much bigger blown lead. In both instances, versatile defensive teams with wings were able to force the ball out of Donovan Mitchell’s hands and stagger the halfcourt offense leading to turnovers and fast break baskets. The same story played out on Monday night as the Cavs were held to just one field goal in the final five minutes of play.
Teams with length like this who can switch everything will continue to bother Cleveland when games turn into a half-court battle. They were able to overcome similar defenses in both matchups against the Boston Celtics due to great games by Caris LeVert and Darius Garland to pair with Mitchell. Unfortunately for the Cavs, they weren’t able to get another strong offensive showing from a primary ball handler to go with Mitchell down the stretch.
This was a fourth quarter to forget from Darius Garland.
Garland played a good game until the collapse down the stretch. Unfortunately, no one will remember his solid play through the first 45 minutes considering what happened in the final three. Here is a quick rundown of what went wrong for Garland in the final three minutes.
- Missed three-pointer (2:52)
- Missed layup (2:02)
- Bad pass turnover (1:42)
- Loose ball turnover (1:24)
- Frustration loose ball foul leading to free throws (1:24)
- Missed three-pointer (43.6)
- Missed free throw (11.4)
The Cavs halfcourt offense with two traditional bigs and no premier wings can only work if Mitchell can get ball handling and play creation help from a teammate. Garland wasn’t able to provide that down the stretch.
This game doesn’t mean much for Garland in the long run. We know that he’s better than this and it is tough to play back-to-back games on road when you’re coming off an injury like he is. But his poor play down the stretch is a big reason why the Cavs coughed up this lead.
The Cavs had solid offensive showings from Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Kevin Love.
It wasn’t all bad for the Cavs on Tuesday night as they were able to get impressive offensive performances from Mitchell, Mobley and Love. Mitchell was spectacular again as he finished with a game-high 30 points on 10 of 15 shooting which included going 8 of 11 from deep. Mitchell is deadly when he has his three-point shot working as we saw once again against LA.
Mobley had his best offensive game of the season as he finished with a season-high 26 points on 12 of 18 shooting while finishing all 8 of his attempts at the rim.
Love continued his string of good play as he contributed 17 points, 8 boards and 4 assists while being a team-high +16. Love has had a strong start to the season but struggled in his matchups against Boston and Toronto which are two teams that feature smaller, interchangeable wings which can limit what he can do best offensively. Seeing him have a good game against a Clippers team that is able to do many of those same things is encouraging.
First half defense remains an issue.
The Cavs allowed 64 first-half points for the second game in a row in Los Angeles. The defense tightened up in the second half which put the Cavs in a position to win before the halfcourt offense withered away.
This game could be chalked up to fatigue as it is difficult to bring consistent effort on that end for 48 minutes during a three-game in a four-night stretch on the road. That said, a more consistent first-half effort probably means the Cavs aren’t in a position to have this game taken from them in the end.
Up next: The Cavs will travel north to take on the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 10 PM.