Sputtering Cavs looking for answers
Upon arriving at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday, each member of the Cleveland Cavaliers received a commemorative watch — the latest gift to celebrate their NBA championship.
The Los Angeles Clippers then handed them a second straight loss.
J.J. Redick scored 23 points and Blake Griffin matched a career high with 11 assists as the Clippers bounced back from a brutal loss with a 11394 victory over the Cavs, who have dropped two straight for the first time since winning their title.
Afterward, there was no panic inside Cleveland’s locker room, but rather a measured response to their first real adversity this season. The Cavs also lost in Milwaukee on Tuesday, but captain LeBron James isn’t worried — yet.
“Two pretty poor games for sure,” said James, who scored 16 but had five turnovers.
“You’re hoping they’re not back-to-back, but it happens. Now, three games in a row? That’s something to talk about. It’s different from football, where you have to wait a whole week to redeem yourself.
“We need to find answers and get right back at it tomorrow night.”
Chris Paul shook off some early foul trouble and scored 16 and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers, who came in hungry after blowing an 18-point lead and falling in double overtime at Brooklyn on Tuesday.
“It’s who we are, I really believe that,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
“We actually played to our potential. We had some adversity, which is great. Chris got in foul trouble and we extended the lead. It was a team win.”
Los Angeles took control with a 13-2 run to open the third quarter.
Kyrie Irving scored 28 and Kevin Love 16 for the Cavs, who were badly outplayed for the second game in a row.
During Tuesday’s loss, coach Tyronn Lue pulled his starters in the second half and J.R. Smith wandered off the floor during play and gave up an easy basket.
This wasn’t much better, as Lue pulled James, Irving, Smith, Love and Tristan Thompson with seven minutes left as it became very clear there would be no comeback for the Cavs, who are in their first true slump since winning the title in June.
“They were motivated and they came out and played like a desperate team,” Lue said.
Cleveland failed to make 10 3-pointers for the first time this season, ending its league record to start a season at 16 games.
The Clippers outscored Cleveland 27-15 in the third, when the Cavs showed frustration and briefly lost their focus.
The Clippers, who opened the season 14-2, took advantage of Cleveland’s sloppiness at the start of the third quarter and scored eight quick points before Paul’s 3-pointer gave them a 71-52 lead.
“It was important for us to see what it felt like to win a game,” said Paul.
“When you’re running them off like we were and then you lose three in a row, you need to get that feeling back in your locker room.”
James isn’t happy about having to wear a Cubs uniform — minus the cleats — to Friday’s game in Chicago after he lost a bet on the World Series to Dwyane Wade.
James wagered on the Cleveland Indians, who were beaten in seven games.
“I fill my bets,” he said. “Don’t make fun of me.”
Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers passes over Cleveland Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith during the first half of Thursday’s game in Cleveland. The Clippers won 113-94.