The Cleveland Charge came up short on Tuesday night as they fell 126-120 to the Motor City Cruise. Seben Lee and Luka Garza led the way for the Cruise as they combined for 55 points.
Like we’ve seen many times this season, the Charge dug themselves an early deficit. This time, it was an eight-point deficit thanks to a string of careless turnovers and poor transition defense to open the game. The Charge fought their way back to take a 33-32 lead after one.
The Cruise responded with a 35-point second quarter thanks in part to Garza who contributed 9 points during that frame. The Cruise entered halftime with a seven-point lead.
Unfortunately for the Charge, Garza was just getting started. He poured in 6 points in the opening few minutes of the third to give the Cruise a 12-point lead. The Charge fought back behind 7 third quarter points from Dylan Windler. A late third quarter run by the Cruise allowed them to grab an 11-point lead heading into the fourth.
The defensive rotations continued to be a step slow to start the fourth as the deficit ballooned to 16. Malik Newman led a spirited comeback as he poured in 20 fourth quarter points to bring the Charge back within four with under 30 seconds left before the Cruise sealed the game on the free throw line.
Newman was the Charge’s best offensive player. He finished with a game-high 34 points on 14-23 shooting and 6 assists. Newman did most of his damage driving to the rim as seen in the clip below. This was the second time this season he’s crossed the 30-point threshold.
Windler has been one of the most notable stories for the Charge the last several weeks. He played some of his most confident basketball in a while on Tuesday evening which included this no look pass to Wes Iwundu.
Windler finished with 22 points on 8-15 shooting from the floor which included going 4 of 6 from deep. He also contributed 14 boards and 2 assists in the loss.
Windler’s increased confidence is exactly what you want to see from these games. He showed multiple times that he wasn’t afraid to attack the basket off the dribble and in the pick and roll. This has also led to increased and purposeful off-ball movement.
Up next: The Charge are back in action at home Friday night against the Wisconsin Herd, the G League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Wolstein Center.