CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers appeared as if they were going to get run out of Quicken Loans Arena by the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
At one point trailing 24-9 to the Kings, who were landing haymakers (shooting 65 percent in the first quarter), the Cavs (5-20) picked up the pace and, to a certain extent the defense, to race back and tie the score at halftime.
The problem is the sloppy play that put them in a hole to start the game, buried them to end it.
Effort-free defense and problems on the boards, especially the offensive glass, doomed the Cavs to a 129-110 loss.
The Kings (13-11) scored virtually at will and in the paint. Led by 30 points from point guard De’Aaron Fox, they scored 72 points in the paint as the Cavs interior defense took the night off. Fox also dished out 12 assists for a double-double to help get his teammates into the flow of things. Backcourt mate Buddy Hield added 25 points for the Kings.
Offense wasn’t the Cavs' problem. They shot 53 percent (42-of-80) in the game. The Kings took advantage of 17 more shots, making 56-of-98 (57 percent) of their shots in the game. Guard Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to lead the Cavs with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting and rookie point guard Collin Sexton added 23 points and two assists.
The Kings padded their lead courtesy of 19 second-chance points, beating the Cavs on the offensive boards 10-7, and 31 points off 16 turnovers
“You have to give credit where credit is due,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said. “Sacramento plays with an incredible pace. They’re not nowhere near where they were last year as far as pace is concerned and that was a problem for us. I really felt like they exposed us in every area and I haven’t felt like that all year long as far as our opponents are concerned.”
The Cavs could have used news of the trade of guard George Hill and forward Sam Dekker to the Milwaukee Bucks as an excuse. However, the most significant blow from the Cavs’ standpoint, might have been the loss of guard Rodney Hood at halftime. Team trainers told Drew that Hood was suffering from a sore foot and he did not return to the game.
“I don’t know how much [the injury] played into [the game], but we certainly needed Rodney for the second half,” Drew said. “I knew that would kind of disrupt the substitution pattern which we were already limited with bodies as we were [due to the trade].”
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.