The Cavaliers lost their first home game of the season when Donovan Mitchell played, and Mitchell said he and the other four starters had a lot to do with that.
“They kicked our ass, to be honest with you,” Mitchell said after the Cavs’ 118-107 loss to the Raptors on Friday, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “You can say you have nights like that, but after a win like we had against Milwaukee, it was kind of upsetting to come out the way we did as a group, especially the starters.
“I put it on the starting five. We’ll be better, we’ll learn from it and we’ll move on, but it’s definitely tough to come out the way we came out as a group.”
The Cavs (22-12) dropped to 16-3 at home and 16-1 with Mitchell in uniform. They’re also 0-2 at home in their “The Land” city edition jerseys — having lost the other to the Timberwolves.
Overall, their three home losses have come to the Wolves, Kings and Raptors. While decent teams, none are considered NBA powers.
On this night, Mitchell struggled mightily — a true rarity for the three-time All-Star — scoring 12 points on a miserable 4-of-16 shooting.
It got to the point where Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff felt compelled to make a hockey substitution in the third quarter, subbing out starters Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro all at once. In came Cedi Osman, Raul Neto, Kevin Love, Robin Lopez and Caris LeVert.
That second group actually breathed a little life into Cleveland. But it turned out not to be enough.
“The bench guys came in and clawed and fought and did everything that we should have done,” Mitchell said. “You gotta give them credit for fighting back.”
Things had been going very well for the Cavs lately. They had won five straight, including four straight at home. One of those wins, as Mitchell mentioned, came over the East-leading Bucks. That was Wednesday.
Now, the Cavs are just a half-game ahead of the Nets with the Nets rolling into town for the Cavs’ very next game on Monday.
“The disappointing part was our response to success,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what this league is about at the end of the day. You win a game on a Wednesday night in December, it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t think our response to winning a few games was what it needed to be.”
Garland led the Cavs with 17 points and eight assists, but also committed five turnovers. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby each scored 26 to pace the Raptors (15-18), and Scottie Barnes had 25.
Toronto is 3-0 against Cleveland on the season, with one more still to go.
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