The Cleveland Cavaliers hope a return to NBA normalcy helps them regain their winning ways when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Monday night in a duel of teams that lost games 24 hours earlier.
The Cavaliers drew the unenviable task of being guests at Klay Thompson’s return to game action Sunday night and endured poor shooting and rebounding efforts in a 96-82 loss in San Francisco.
With an earlier start and a shorter distance to travel, the Cavaliers arrived in Sacramento ahead of the Kings, who were thrashed 103-88 by the Portland Trail Blazers later in the evening in Oregon.
Seeking a second win in three outings to begin a six-game Western trip, Cleveland no doubt will look forward to playing Sacramento, a team it beat 117-103 last month at home, after failing to deal effectively with the uniqueness of Sunday’s event in San Francisco.
Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff had tried to warn his guys beforehand.
“I think it’s important that our guys understand the circumstances,” he explained prior to the game. “We talk to our guys all the time about having empathy for our opponents, and understanding their emotions, and what they’re playing for, and having an understanding of that going into it.”
The Cavaliers were up to the task defensively, holding the Warriors to 40.2 percent shooting overall and 23.8 percent on 3-pointers. Thompson contributed 7-for-18 and 3-for-8, respectively, to those percentages on a 17-point night.
But needing just 97 points to win, Cleveland came up well short after shooting 42.7 percent overall and 29.2 percent on threes.
To add insult to injury, the taller Cavaliers were dominated on the boards 54-42 in defeat.
They were much better in all three categories in their home win over the Kings last month.
Led by Isaac Okoro’s 7-for-9 from the field and Cedi Osman’s 4-for-10 on 3-pointers, the Cavaliers outshot the Kings 46.6 percent to 44.1 percent overall and 38.7 percent to 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Evan Mobley had 15 rebounds and Jarrett Allen took 11 as the Cavaliers lost the board battle to the Kings just 48-47.
Sacramento’s Buddy Hield was the game’s leading scorer with 21 points, but is coming off a 2-for-8 effort on 3-pointers in the loss at Portland. The Kings made just seven of their 31 shots from deep in the defeat.
Tyrese Haliburton paced the Kings against the Trail Blazers with 17 points.
The loss was Sacramento’s fourth in a row and second on a two-game trip that began Friday at Denver.
Cleveland’s visit will tip off a five-game Kings homestand and conclude a stretch in which Sacramento will play 15 of 19 at home. The Kings have not taken advantage of the friendly schedule so far, going 5-9 since Dec. 15, including just 5-5 at home.
“We are not in a position to have pity parties,” Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry insisted. “It’s the old adage about ‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do.’ So we’ve got to make sure that we’re the tough people surviving this thing because it’s no fun at all what we’re going through right now.”
–Field Level Media