Cava­liers' painful sea­son wors­en­ing

The Freeman - - SPORTS - NETS 112, NUGGETS 110 KINGS 112, TIM­BER­WOLVES 110

Brook­lyn coach Kenny Atkin­son didn't want Den­ver to have a chance to win with a last-sec­ond shot. Caris LeVert made sure the Nuggets didn't have an op­por­tu­nity to win in over­time, ei­ther.

LeVert hit a floater in the lane with 0.3 sec­onds left, and the Brook­lyn Nets scored the last six points of the game to beat the Nuggets.

"To have the ball and every­body get out of the way, that's a great feel­ing to have as a player," LeVert said. "That's what you dream about as a kid."

Atkin­son put the ball in his hands and let the for­mer Michi­gan star go to work.

The Nets over­came a big bounce-back night from Den­ver's Nikola Jo­kic to win their third straight. In an of­fen­sive funk for the last four games, Jo­kic had a sea­son-high 37 points and tied his ca­reer best with 21 re­bounds.

Wil­lie Cauley-Stein had 25 points, Ne­manja Bjel­ica scored eight in a row dur­ing a big run late in the third quar­ter and the Sacra­mento Kings beat the slump­ing Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves to spoil a huge game for Karl-An­thony Towns.

De'Aaron Fox added 16 points and 10 as­sists for Sacra­mento. Iman Shumpert scored 17 and Bjel­ica fin­ished with 14 points and eight re­bounds.

Com­ing off back-to-back losses to East pow­ers Mil­wau­kee and Toronto, the Kings led by 15 early in the fourth quar­ter but had to hold off a late surge by Min­nesota to end a three-game los­ing streak to the Tim­ber­wolves.

Towns had a sea­son-high 39 points and 19 re­bounds on a night when Min­nesota's in­con­sis­tent of­fense sput­tered much of the way.

CLEVE­LAND — This painful sea­son isn’t sub­sid­ing for the Cava­liers. If any­thing, it’s get­ting worse.

Cleve­land, which al­ready has the worst record in the NBA at 1-10, will be with­out yet an­other starter on Satur­day night in Chicago af­ter for­ward Cedi Os­man was ruled out with back spasms.

He’s the lat­est Cavs player to join an in­jury list that in­cludes All-Star for­ward Kevin Love, point guard Ge­orge Hill and Sam Dekker, who be­gan the sea­son as a re­serve but moved into the start­ing lineup be­cause of all the in­juries.

Throw in a coach­ing change, some off-court drama and this Cleve­land sea­son is sink­ing fast.

Os­man was forced to leave Wed­nes­day’s loss to Ok­la­homa City in the first quar­ter, and the Cavs were hop­ing rest would al­low him to face the Bulls. How­ever, coach Larry Drew said Os­man will sit out against the Bulls “and we’ll see how he is af­ter the game to­mor­row.”

The rash of in­juries has put even greater stress on Drew, who took over af­ter Ty­ronn Lue was fired fol­low­ing a 0-6 start. Drew asked the team to re­struc­ture his con­tract for the re­main­der of the sea­son, know­ing this re­build­ing sea­son would be a chal­lenge.

He never imag­ined this chal­leng­ing.

“I don’t know about snake bit,” he said when asked about Cleve­land’s run of bad med­i­cal luck. “In­juries are part of the NBA. When you lose play­ers, other peo­ple have to step up. With our sit­u­a­tion with K. Love out and then Dekker, now Ge­orge Hill and Cedi, we’re look­ing at four starters that are out. That’s just what it is. But we’re not go­ing to hang our heads.”

Drew’s had to ad­just his start­ing lineup and ro­ta­tion sev­eral times al­ready this sea­son, and now he’s go­ing to have to do it again.

Drew is run­ning out of op­tions and he’s par­tic­u­larly lim­ited up front with three for­wards on the shelf. Drew has been re­sis­tant to use for­wards Larry Nance Jr. and Tris­tan Thomp­son to­gether, but may no longer have a choice.

Bos­ton Celtics for­ward Gor­don Hay­ward (20) goes to the bas­ket as Utah Jazz for­ward Joe In­gles (2) de­fends in the first half dur­ing an NBA bas­ket­ball game in Salt Lake City. AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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