Dribbles: Cavs Show Fight, Might And Some Promise In Snapping Home Skid
CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' impressive 127-105 home win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
1. The opponent may have only been the lowly Hawks, but the Cavs will take this. For most of the game, they did all the right things, and we saw the benefits of having three very capable frontcourt players.
2. One thing I kept thinking during the game was the young backcourt actually did fairly well when facing a similar type of team. In other words, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland held their own and sometimes outplayed Hawks All-Star Trae Young and Kevin Huerter.
3. That really is how you have to measure Sexton and Garland, ages 21 and 20, respectively. It's not exactly fair to gauge their progress against, say, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard.
4. Sexton finished with a team-high 23 points and even passed for six assists. He could have compiled a few more had his teammates knocked down some open jumpers. Many of those looks were created by Sexton.
5. Sexton on the night: "Feels good. I was just going out there and playing my game and not trying to force it, having fun and trying to play the right way."
6. Mostly, the Cavs (14-40) snapped a 12-game losing streak at home and played some of their best basketball right before the All-Star break. Who knows where things go from here, but it sure beats what we've seen lately.
7. OK, back to the frontcourt. It took Tristan Thompson all of one game to adapt to being Andre Drummond's backup. Thompson came off the bench for one of his best performances of the season -- 27 points, 11-of-16 shooting, 11 rebounds. Oh, he also made all three of his 3-point attempts.
8. "He gave us such a good lift," Cavs coach John Beilein said of Thompson, before laughing. "We never expected the threes, but a stretch five is good to have."
9. Larry Nance Jr. was also fantastic, carrying over his strong January with 23 points and 12 boards. Nance started in place of Kevin Love, out with Achilles' soreness.
10. More Beilein: "I said to the (coaching) staff, in the future, we have to try to maximize Larry Nance as much as possible."
11. Drummond finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Beilein credited Drummond's swat of a shot early with setting the tone. Rookie Kevin Porter Jr. added 18 underrated points and Garland finished with 12.
12. Basically, the Cavaliers put up some really good numbers, and this time, they didn't feel totally empty. Everyone who played contributed in at least small way -- and that includes Cedi Osman. He finished a miserable 1-of-10 shooting, but stayed active nonetheless, collecting six boards.
13. Thompson is already drawing interest as playoff teams pray he accepts a contract buyout. Of course, that would require the Cavs to actually offer one. I doubt either happens. But showings like the one Thompson gave Wednesday will only make opponents salivate more.
14. I wrote more about Thompson and the buyout talk here. As far as anyone can tell, again, it's not happening. Players must have their contracts bought out/be waived before March 1 to be eligible for the postseason.
15. By the way, Love's injury isn't considered serious. A source told SI.com he should be ready to go for the Cavs' next game, a week from Thursday at Washington.
16. Young led the Hawks (15-41) with 27 points. He flew to Chicago for All-Star Weekend on a private jet immediately after the game. That young man and this Atlanta team are just getting started. John Collins was also very good with 23 points and six dunks, several of which were of the massive variety.
17. This marked the final game in Cleveland for Hawks forward Vince Carter, 43 years old and retiring at the end of the season. He was on the court almost three hours before tipoff, putting up shots and working on his game as if he were a rookie. Carter received a standing ovation from Cavs fans at the start of the second quarter. He finished with three points in eight minutes.
18. Overall, the Cavs outscored the Hawks 68-44 in the paint and won the battle of the boards by a 55-38 count.
19. Enjoy the All-Star break. I'll have plenty more on the Cavs and the NBA before the real games begin again. Thanks as always for following along.
- BOX SCORE: Cavaliers 127, Hawks 105