It looks like the Cleveland Cavaliers figured out how to close out ball games. Not only a close game but a thrilling overtime contest on the road. Following a tough home loss to the Houston Rockets, the Cavs traveled to San Antonio to face the Spurs. This was the tail end of a tough back-to-back and came off the heels of a blown fourth-quarter lead against Houston.
A Kevin Love three-pointer with under ten seconds left in regulation tied the game at 103. DeMar DeRozan missed a game-winning shot over John Henson, sending things to overtime. The Cavs outscored the Spurs 14-6 in the overtime period, securing a 117-109 victory.
“I felt like we played until the end tonight,” said Cavs guard Collin Sexton after the game. “It felt good to get a win and it felt good to fight back”. The Cavs trailed 103-98 with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The victory is just Cleveland’s sixth win of the new season, a huge boost for John Beilein’s squad. There were a lot of positives here for Cleveland, as well as a few negatives. Here are five takeaways from the Cavs overtime win in San Antonio.
Kevin Love has Responded Well to the Noise
It’s no secret the All-Star power forward has been at the center of trade rumors lately. The Cavs reportedly became open to trade offers from Love last week. Those rumors continued when reports of Love wanting to be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers surfaced. Despite the outside noise, Love has continued to play hard for John Beilein.
Love started the night hot, tallying 19 points and 13 rebounds for a first-half double-double. His late-game three to send the game into overtime was beyond crucial. He nailed another three-point shot in the overtime period that gave the Cavs a two-possession lead. Love finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds, including a 4-9 effort from beyond the arc.
“To come here, on a back-to-back, in San Antonio, you know it’s a big step in the right direction for us,” Love told Cavs sideline reporter Angel Gray after the game. “I know it’s just one game, but coming on the road and getting a win in a real tough game feels good”.
The Cavs will still be open to offers for Love, and recent reports say teams want a first-round pick from Cleveland along with his huge contract. With Love’s future in Cleveland unsure, it’s good to see him playing well regardless.
Clarkson Turnovers Still an Issue
Jordan Clarkson received a lot of flack for a late-game turnover against the Rockets the night before. His play-style allows him to score in a flurry, but also makes him prone to silly turnovers and wasted possessions. Clarkson still finished with three turnovers, including one late that almost cost Cleveland the game (and one in overtime).
Fortunately, DeRozan bailed him out with two missed free throws. Outside of that, Clarkson made some big plays down the stretch. He received the assist for Love’s game-tying three, a beautiful pass made in traffic. Jordan finished 10-18 from the field and poured in 25 points, including 11 total points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Lay Off Collin Sexton
Listening to fan chatter in Northeast Ohio, there seems to be a love-hate relationship with Collin Sexton. Unfortunately, it’s been more hate than love. The second-year point guard out of Alabama made plenty of strides the second half of his rookie season.
His assist numbers haven’t been great, sure, but he’s still useful on the floor. He defends hard despite being undersized and has been running the pick and roll well this season. His ability to get to the free-throw line showed against the Spurs, going 7-8 from the charity stripe. He finished with 28 points, including a couple of tough baskets down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
Cavs Still Need a Wing Defender
One of the negatives of this game was the late-game defense. This problem came exposed to DeMar DeRozan. The Cavs made it tough for DeRozan, who went just 8-17 from the floor with 21 points. Still, his ability to get to the rim during late stretches came way too easy. Cedi Osman took on the responsibility a handful of times but was simply outmuscled by DeMar.
Rookie Dylan Windler, who is yet to appear for the Cavs this season, was a standout defender at Belmont. The Ohio Valley Conference is a far cry from NBA level basketball, however. Plus, Windler is yet to appear in an NBA game this season. He’s dealing with a stress reaction in his right leg, and his timetable of when he will return is still unclear.
It’s still a rebuild, but Cleveland will certainly need better wing defense if they hope to close out more games like this one.
Speaking of Closing Out Games…
As mentioned at the top, Cleveland seemed to remember how to close out games! Cleveland has only been a part of two close wins this year, both at home against the Bulls and Trail Blazers. The loss to Houston was heartbreaking and showed a lack of composure from this young Cavs team. Bouncing back in San Antonio a night later is impressive, but the late-game execution was even better. The Clarkson turnovers were bad, sure, but the Cavs managed to overcome.
That’s something to be said for a young, rebuilding franchise.
Cleveland made their last five shots in regulation, including 4-4 from the free-throw line. The Cavs also shot 4-7 in overtime and, again, went 4-4 from the foul line. This team has struggled shooting the ball in many of its losses but made some tough baskets late tonight to secure the win.
The Cavs move to 6-19 on the year after the win, one game ahead in the Eastern Conference over the New York Knicks. The win also snaps an eight-game losing streak for the club. They’ll get a needed day off before matching up with the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday.
follow us @OTHeroics1 for more great content!
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!
Head over to our shop if you are interested in purchasing some Overtime Heroics gear!