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Game Recap: James’ 41 Points Not Enough As Cavs Drop 2nd Straight Against Pelicans

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Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers have begun a new streak tonight, but not the good kind. The Cavaliers lost to the New Orleans Pelicans tonight 119-114, giving them two straight losses in back-to-back nights. The Cavaliers once again got off to a good, fast start, but were unable to sustain their play as the Pelicans built their lead to 19 points midway through the 4th quarter. LeBron returned and thrived tonight with 41 points, but Irving struggled for much of the game. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

First Half

The Cavaliers started off well and exchanged baskets with the Pelicans for much of the first quarter, with neither team leading by more than 4 points. Anthony Davis, who scored 8 points in the first 6 minutes, went down with a chest contusion with 5:30 remaining in the first and exited the game, questionable to return. Ryan Anderson came in and made an immediate impact on the game with 5 quick points, but LeBron came back to help his team tie the game at 33 after 1 quarter.
The Cavalier bench came into the 2nd quarter and did not do much except for a single basket each from Waiter and Thompson. Anderson scored on 3 more three-point shots in the 2nd as the Pelicans took their biggest lead of the half of 5. After numerous exchanging of baskets in the quarter, the Pelicans were able to go on a 10-3 run to take a 64-59 lead into halftime. Irving was held scoreless in the first half.

Second Half

{adinserter 2}Anthony Davis did not return for the second half, seemingly giving the Cavs an advantage. The 3rd quarter, however, was mainly the Cavaliers’ undoing, as they started off horribly, allowing the Pelicans to start it with an 8-2 run to take an 11 point lead at 72-61. After cutting to just 5, the Cavs allowed another run, this one at 13-4 where the Pelicans took their largest lead yet at 85-71 with just under 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. They were unable to get out to the shooters Ryan Anderson and Luke Babbitt or stop the dribble-penetration of Tyreke Evans. All 3 players absolutely had their way tonight with the Cavs, as the Pelicans took a 76-89 lead into the 4th quarter.

In the 4th quarter this season, a quarter that the Cavs have thrived in, they were able to put up 38 points, but they couldn’t stop the Pelicans. Ryan Anderson finished with a career high 8 threes in the game for the 2nd time this season. The first time he did it was also against the Cavaliers in Cleveland, when he scored 32 points. Kyrie Irving scored his first points of the game with 8:22 remaining in the 4th quarter. For a 2nd straight night, the Cavaliers looked out of the game. And for a 2nd straight night, they nearly succeeded in an unlikely comeback attempt. The Cavaliers went on a 21-9 run to get within 106-99 at the 3:46 mark of the 4th. Led by Kyrie Irving, who had 17 points in the quarter, the Cavs offense was running smoothly. Unfortunately, their defense was atrocious down the stretch as they allowed Tyreke Evans and Jure Holiday to get wherever they wanted on the floor.

With a minute left, the Cavs were down just 5 on a James Jones 3 pointer. But Luke Babbitt hit a three from the top of the key to essentially ice the game for the Pelicans and give them the win at 119-114.

LeBron James had an exceptional game returning from a knee issue, putting up a line of 41 points on 17-24 from the field, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 block. Kevin Love also had great all-around game with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. Irving scored 17 points, all in the 4th quarter, on just 7-19 shooting with 2 rebounds and 7 assists. Andy Varejao was the last player in double figures with 11 for the Cavs. The bench only scored 18 points in the game after scoring 31 last night.

Tyreke Evans led the Pelicans with 31 points on 13-24 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 10 assists. Ryan Anderson also had 30 points, including 8 three-pointers and 4 rebounds. Jrue Holiday put in 16 points with 8 assists. Austin Rivers had 11 off the bench, and the New Orleans bench scored 49 points tonight. Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson were mainly nonfactors tonight with just 6 combined points.

As the team, the Cavaliers played well, shooting 44.9% and 18-23 from the free throw line with 40 rebounds, 22 assists, 6 steals, 6 blocks, and only 6 turnovers. They could not stop the Pelicans, however, as they shot a blistering 55.7% from the field including 12 three-pointers. They also had 39 rebounds, 21 assists, 5 steals, and 6 blocks with only 7 turnovers and no Anthony Davis for the final 44 minutes.

The Cavaliers go back home with a 13-9 record for a Monday night matchup against the struggling Charlotte Hornets, who are 6-16 on the season.

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