Cavaliers, Hornets aim to make adjustments
When the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets meet in a rematch, both teams would like to see some changes.
They're set to play Tuesday night at Charlotte, N.C., where the Cavaliers continue to have quite a bit at stake and the Hornets are simply trying to end a two-game losing streak.
Cleveland, which sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, has won four of its last five games and Charlotte resides in 14th place.
Tuesday will mark the second meeting between the teams in three days in the same building after the Cavaliers rallied to win 114-108 on Sunday.
"Starting the game off strong, not waiting until the second half," Cavaliers guard Darius Garland said of a needed adjustment. "We knew they were going to come in and try to fight."
The health of players is a top concern.
Garland missed Friday night's loss at Miami with a sore quad before scoring a game-high 28 points Sunday. Teammate Jarrett Allen, who missed Sunday's game because of an eye injury sustained late in Friday night's contest, joins Donovan Mitchell (sprained finger) in being ruled out for Tuesday's game.
Allen is important for the Cavaliers because he averages 33 minutes per game when he plays.
Kelly Oubre Jr. was the top scorer for the Hornets in six consecutive games, but after playing Saturday night in a loss to Utah, he sat out Sunday's game with a sore back. His status was unclear until close to game time, so it might not be a long-term absence.
Charlotte was hurt by 19 turnovers on Sunday, yet the Hornets distributed 25 assists on their 41 field goals.
"We got a couple of turnovers, got some easy (baskets) going," Garland said. "That really set the tone for us. (Forcing) turnovers and defense, that's what we pride ourselves on, so that's what we're going to try to keep doing."
Caris LeVert was back in a reserve role with Garland in the starting lineup. Yet LaVert's contributions included 15 points and four assists.
"Caris always impacts the game somehow," Garland said.
That production helped Cleveland's reserves outscore Charlotte's 31-17. But already without injured point guard LaMelo Ball (ankle) for the rest of the season, the Hornets lack depth. Center Mark Williams has missed two games with a thumb injury.
"It's hard to get to 48 minutes sometimes when you've got that many guys out," coach Steve Clifford said.
Charlotte guard Terry Rozier has at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games.
The Hornets failed to protect a lead that grew as large as 14 points in the first half Sunday.
Part of that comes from recurring issues with turnovers on offense and racking up too many fouls on defense. The Cavaliers had a significant advantage at the free-throw line by the second half, even while they still trailed.
"Turnovers and fouls, that's just what it boiled down to," Hornets guard Dennis Smith Jr. said. "I don't think it's anything more complex than that. It was just turnovers and fouls. A lot of them were unforced, just bad plays, and we still fouled a lot, too."
For Cleveland, Tuesday's game will conclude a four-game trip -- two games in both Miami and Charlotte.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 14, 2023