ORLANDO, FL – Sometimes there’s just too much to overcome.
This was the case for the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night, dropping the first of this two-game series to the Orlando Magic, 103-83.
With the missing six-man night in, the Cavs lost less than another minute into the match, when Dante Exum knocked out with a right calf injury and didn’t return.
“You could say the men were bothered by that,” said trainer JP Pickerstaff. “It’s one of those things where we have to make sure that we keep our positivity. But human nature tells you when your comrades keep crashing, you have those moments. We have to do our best so that those moments don’t turn into long-term effects.”
Exum was already starting in place of rookie Isaac Okoro, who was back in the team on the bench for the first time since December 26, but remains upset with a foot sprain. CAFs was also without young goalkeeper Darius Garland, who was sidelined due to a strain in the right shoulder and forced to watch the match from the front of the bench between the Cleveland coaches.
The absences forced Beckerstaff to change the line-up again. Use a sixth variant at first – Damian Dotson in Garland’s place and Colin Sexton turning point guard.
As if that wasn’t challenging enough, Exum’s early departure for Bickerstaff left only 10 playable bodies, and some players who wouldn’t do a job in normal mode. Bidirectional player used Lamar Stevens for the third time throughout the year. Marx Bolden made his fourth appearance. Dean Wade and Thon Maker both hit their season high in minutes.
“It’s tough,” Bickerstaff said. “I think our guys played hard. They tried to do what we were telling them to do, but we had a lot of players out of their positions tonight, and it’s hard to organize the players, especially when you lose the main ball players and you have great players playing in peripheral locations. It’s difficult.” Get a structure when you have a lot of uncomfortable men in so many different places. “
Even with Orlando scoring the first ten points from the match, and the Cavs digging another early hole, the brave Bickerstaff fought – until they could no longer. They were only two points behind in the game and took their first lead in the night at 10:44 in the third quarter with Dotson digging for a triple pointer.
She was short-lived. The magic went on a 16-5 round during the next four minutes. Then they rebuilt their progression to double digits, where it remained for the rest of the game.
“Our energy was not there tonight, especially in the third quarter, because we were reduced,” said Sidi Othman. “We fought. We did everything we could.”
Colin Sexton extended his 20-point scoring streak to seven, leading with 24 points on a 10 of 19 shot. Othman scored 18 points for seven assists and seven rebounds. Dotson, in his debut with the Cavs, took advantage of an increased playtime. He scored 16 points on 6 of 10 from the field.
“Keep playing the same way I used to,” Dotson said. “Knowing that there will be more shots there, we had two men outside and we are dealing aggressively with that. Trying to bring energy and play defense and play the right way.”
Orlando’s Aaron Gordon scored a balanced attack with 24 points and 11 boards. Nikola Vucevich added 23 and eight.
Cleveland scored 34 points during the miserable and weary second half. The Cavs run out – hence two players able to take turns.
“We kind of lost our way in the third quarter, then they made some shots and it was really hard for us to beat him as well,” said Pickerstaff. “It’s difficult because you are asking so many people to do things that they haven’t done before.”
They braved the odds early in the season. But Monday night, he inflicted a pile of injuries, pig formations and players in different roles.
The Cleveland Magic will play once in Orlando on Wednesday evening. Tipoff was set at 7 p.m.
New CAVS face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Cavaliers-inspired face covers to protect against coronavirus, including 1 mask ($ 14.99) and 3-pack ($ 24.99). All proceeds from the NBA were donated to charity.
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