Dribbles: Guts, Brandon Goodwin Get Cavs Back On Winning Track

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ nail-biter of 93-90 home win over the Pelicans on Monday.

1. That game was U-G-L-Y and it had no alibi. But guess what? The Cavs will take it. Truth is, they’ll take any win they can muster without Darius Garland.

Brandon Goodwin

2. Instead, Garland was a late scratch with a lower back issue, and was forced to watch anxiously with Collin Sexton (knee), much like the rest of us.

3. The Cavs were actually outplayed most of the night. It was easy to think that things just weren’t going to go their way. But they took control at the end, tightening the defense and getting just enough offense — sealing the deal with a 15-6 run to close the game.

4. Offensively, there wasn’t whole lot to take pride in, except for a couple of big shots by Kevin Love near the end.

5. Oh, and Brandon Goodwin replaced Garland for most of the night and came up huge, scoring 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. That included 12 points in the all-important fourth quarter.

6. Goodwin on his role to Ball Sports Ohio’s Serena Winters: “Just trying to be ready whenever the opportunity presents itself. That’s been my career.”

7. That really has been the case. Goodwin, 26, had a couple of nice seasons leading into this one while with the Hawks. The Cavs were fairly surprised when he was out there, available to be signed to a 10-day contract in December. It was later converted to a two-way deal.

8. As Bally’s Campy Russell said, Goodwin really is the ultimate third point guard. 

9. As an aside, Goodwin is the ELEVENTH member of the Cavs to score 20 or more points this season. Just another example that this team keeps finding a way, even when all seems lost.

10. More Goodwin to Winters: “Think it just came down to stops. … We got the win, that’s all that matters.”

11. And Cavs fans everywhere sang forever and ever amen.

12. Lamar Stevens also had a few big moments, proving again that he is developing into the ultimate role player. Stevens finished with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. “Lamar’s not afraid to stick his nose in there,” was how coach J.B. Bickerstaff described it.

13. Meanwhile, Jarrett Allen threw down a couple of big dunks on his way to 16 points, all while offering some strong defense near the basket at the end. Love finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Isaac Okoro added an underrated 14 points.

14. The Cavs (31-20) have another winnable home game Wednesday when they visit old pal Kevin Porter Jr. and the rebuilding Rockets. Hopefully for the Cavs’ sake, Garland is back. “We miss how much he can create and the pressure he puts on defenses,” Bickerstaff said.

15. Actually, Cedi Osman started at point guard (for the first half anyway), and finished with seven points and a career-high 12 assists. He did a decent job of keeping things moving. “It’s definitely a big win, especially when we didn’t play our best basketball,” Osman said. “We’ll take it.”

16. Overall, the bench contributed 52 points for the Cavs, compared to 41 for the starters.

17. The Pelicans (18-32) received 20 points from Devonte’ Graham, 19 from Jaxson Hayes (on 9-of-10 shooting) and 16 from Jonas Valanciunas. They were without Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, who still has yet to play this season.

18. Bickerstaff had strong words for his team before the game, addressing Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Pistons. “We were a team who spent three days reading our press clippings about how good we are,” he said.

19. So the Cavs deserve credit for gutting this one out and fighting to the very finish. That’s especially true when their opponent tried to muck up things, trying to give itself a chance to win. The Cavs survived. 

20. As an aside. Lauri Markkanen missed his fourth straight game with a high ankle sprain. Bickerstaff said Markkanen is doing some “light” work on the court and improving.

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  1. Well Yes they DID win & I’m sure they’ll take that in the battle of “gutting it out”. It sure was a VERY good move for Bik to have put in BOTH Okoro AND Stevens for the defense on that last possession! Great move! Felt like a pounder type playoff game.
    One point in the progression of the season thing,,,I know you & everyone else figured for the Cavs to win 25-27 games MAX this year BUT:
    (yes in retrospect) IF they had not “read the news clippings of just how good they were” and HAD COVERED the bases on Detroit Pistons,
    THEY RIGHT NOW WOULD HAVE BEEN TIED WITH THE NUMBER ONE MIAMI HEAT FOR THAT NUMBER 1 POSITION! So they easily could’ve have progressed not just to number 3, BUT number 1 !!! Maybe later it can jell, IF they work hard, as later in the season Several of the top teams they’re contending(Nets, Bulls, Bucks, Heat, Phi,) with actually PLAY EACH OTHER at LOT yielding a resulting loses to one or the other. They do have to watch carefully PHI, though, they play Cav’s yet 4 times!

  2. Wow, didn’t realize that about being tied with the Heat! Either way, I couldn’t be happier that they are proving me dead wrong! Lol. Always appreciate you leaving your comments and always enjoy reading them. – Sam

  3. My Bad ! I had looked at a current standing website that had NOT yet updated Miami from 1 to 2, So Cav’s would’ve been tied with Number 2 Miami. Apologies for not being diligent !
    I am still sure they have a chance to be number one but will have to shoot better to get it.

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