Dribbles: Cavs Rising And Riveting, Just Failing To Finish

Random dribbles from the Cavaliers’ 120-115 home loss to the Suns on Thanksgiving eve …Cedi Osman

1. Well, Evan Mobley should be feeling pretty good about himself right now. The Cavs can’t seem to win without him.

2. That’s not a shot at the rest of the team. Cleveland has battled and managed to stay in every game despite being down two starters — Mobley and Collin Sexton. They will have to get used to being without Sexton (knee), out for the season. But Mobley (elbow) should be back soon.

3. And man, they need him.

4. Right now, the Cavs are doing everything they can, but just can’t get over the hump. So make it five straight losses against some of the very best the NBA has to offer. That list? The Warriors, Nets (twice), Celtics and now the defending Western Conference champion Suns.

5. Of course, it didn’t help that the officials for Wednesday’s game looked like they were auditioning for a starring role in “Three Blind Mice.” If so, they will undoubtedly get the part.

6. I’m not one to complain about the officiating, but when it’s bad it’s bad. And this was bad. Did it cost the Cavs the game? Probably not. But it was far from called even.

7. Either way, this one was an absolute thriller, as the Cavs (9-10) were right there with an opponent that has now won 14 straight. The Suns, it is safe to say, are scorching.

8. So there was a lot to like about this if you’re the Cavs. They did a lot of things very well — except close it out. That can be a trouble spot for a young team, especially one that,  again, is missing two of its biggest weapons.

9. With time running out, the Cavs had their chances, down by three points. Cedi Osman got a good look … and missed. But wait. Kevin Love got the offensive rebound, and fed it to Ricky Rubio, who also got a decent look. He too missed. 

10. Then Lauri Markkanen got the offensive rebound … and laid it in. The Cavs trailed by a mere point, before exchanging fouls, as Suns coach Monty Williams didn’t want to give the Cavs another chance at a 3-pointer. Eventually, it became a battle against the ticking clock. It was a battle the Cavs lost.

11. Overall, though, it’s easy to see why coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he’s proud of his team. It’s also easy to understand why Bickerstaff said he believes the Cavs will start winning these games as they get more experience. 

12. Jarrett Allen was excellent with 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting to go with 11 rebounds. Darius Garland went for 19 points and seven assists — and notably, just two turnovers. Osman scored 23, including 12 in the electrifying fourth quarter.

13. There’s more. Rubio struggled with his shot, but ran the offense as well as ever and scored 15. Love and Markkanen added 14 points apiece, with Markkanen grabbing 11 boards.

14. Devin Booker led the Suns (15-3) with 35 points. Man, that guy is good. For all the talk about the Warriors and Lakers, you undoubtedly can’t rule out Phoenix again emerging from the West. Chris Paul added 17 points and 12 assists.

15. Finally, we leave you with a dose of good news. Not only are you a mere few hours away from eating way too much and not having a single regret, but the Cavs’ next opponent is the Magic, Saturday, at home.

16. So if the Cavs can just play like they have during their five game skid, it will end. They are still better than anyone thought they’d be. Even in the losses, we are seeing a team that is doing most things right, treating each night as if it’s Game 7 of the Finals, and is tons of fun to watch. That’s not so terrible.

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