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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com
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    Osman was starting at power forward in place of Kevin Love and Sam Dekker -- two players already on the shelf with injuries. Osman moving to the 4 allowed JR Smith to enter the starting lineup for the first time this season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cedi Osman left Wednesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder midway through the first quarter with lower back spasms and is doubtful to return. 

    Osman was starting at power forward in place of Kevin Love and Sam Dekker -- two players already on the shelf with injuries.

    Moving to the 4 allowed JR Smith to enter the starting lineup for the first time this season. 

    Osman was scoreless on 0-of-1 from the field in six minutes before going back to the locker room with trainer Steve Spiro. 

    With Osman's status in doubt, head coach Larry Drew turned to a super-sized frontcourt, playing Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. together. Drew was also forced to give burly center Ante Zizic extended minutes. 


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    Even though the Cavs' losing streak moved to four games, there wasn't a sense of discouragement. The poor body language was gone. The quiet whispers were silenced. The blame wasn't being placed on one player more than any other. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Late Wednesday night, Collin Sexton was able to crack a smile and share a few laughs with Tristan Thompson -- the only other player remaining in the locker room following a 95-86 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The Cavaliers air has been heavy lately, with Sexton taking plenty of heat from teammates while trying to fight through the growing pains rookies endure.

    Even though the Cavs' losing streak moved to four games, there wasn't a sense of discouragement. The poor body language was gone. The quiet whispers were silenced. The blame wasn't being placed on one player more than any other. 

    On this night, the Cavs -- and Sexton in particular -- had plenty of reasons to be proud after fighting back from a 16-point deficit and nearly stealing the game from the Thunder despite missing four players from the usual rotation.

    For Sexton, the embattled teenager, he wasn't a liability but rather one of the team's best, showing plenty of potential in a tough matchup against Dennis Schroder.

    "He's a dog," Tristan Thompson told cleveland.com following the game. "We always knew he could play."

    Only some recent performances had others doubting that.

    While the losses were piling up and Sexton was looking completely overwhelmed, the common refrain around the locker room was that the youngster didn't yet know how to play. He wasn't a capable passer. He didn't understand how to defend. He waved off advice.

    Everyone felt he was trying to do the right things, but the NBA is relentless and his mind was racing too fast.

    Sexton's struggles, and how his teammates responded to them, led to head coach Larry Drew addressing that with players.

    "I actually pulled some guys to the side when we were in Orlando," Drew said. "That was my exact point -- having to be patient with a 19-year-old kid."

    Drew said he didn't read the articles that pointed to growing disharmony in the locker room. But members of the organization filled him in.

    "Just didn't think that was fair at all (for our guys) to go at a 19-year-old kid like that," Drew said. "As I told a couple of the guys, hey you were 19 at one point. To step up to this level, I'm sure you would've been in a situation where you were making mistakes too. In order for Collin to learn, he's going to have to make mistakes. 

    "I know for me, given what the situation is with him, I want him to be aggressive. I want him to be in attack mode at all times. I don't want him to be passive. He turns the ball over, I don't want him thinking about what his teammates think. And I've expressed that to the team. We cannot get down on this kid just because he makes mistakes. It's tough enough as it is, coming in that young and to play on this level. We have to embrace him when he does make a mistake just like we embrace everybody else. It's not fair for body language to change. When he does make a mistake and now every time he does something he looks over at me."

    Sexton has a long way to go. But Wednesday night was an important step. Not just for Sexton's own confidence either.

    He scored 15 points to lead the team. He was receiving late-game minutes, an important part of the lineup when the Cavs were surging back. He filled in admirably for veteran George Hill who missed the game with a sore shoulder. He didn't back down against feisty Schroder. He played within himself and rarely lost control. 

    "He can score the ball," Jordan Clarkson said of Sexton. "Might have to look at him playing the 2, know what I mean? Yeah, he was in there, played with a good pace today and shot some shots. Still learning. He looked really good tonight. Made shots, made plays."

    Those kinds of performances are the best way to earn cred with his teammates, to prove he's worthy of being out there late in games. 

    "I'd rather take a take a m-----f-----, a bulldog that has some balls and heart like him and teach him to fight than take a chihuahua and try to turn him into a man," Thompson told cleveland.com. "It's our job in the NBA to teach them how to play, teach them how to wrestle."

    In this case, Sexton isn't the puny chihuahua. He's the hard-nosed bulldog with the intangibles Thompson loves to see in a teammate. He just needs time to develop. 

    Thompson said he wasn't one of the players Drew talked to in Orlando. JR Smith wouldn't confirm one way or the other, but dropped a hint that he was.

    "It gets frustrating sometimes in the moment, but you have to take a quick flashback and understand he's still 19 years old," Smith told cleveland.com. "He's a young player and he's going to go through the same situations I was in. For me, I have to look at it I have to be that guy I didn't have who is trying to push me to be better and make sure I'm on the right path. He's definitely on his way there. It's obviously going to take time."

    Smith said he feels he can relate to Sexton. That's why Smith often pulls Sexton to the side during stoppages. That's why he tries to talk to him on the bench throughout the game.

    Like Sexton, Smith entered the NBA as a teenager. He wasn't the eighth-overall pick, of course, but he was a first rounder who arrived in New Orleans with great expectations.

    Smith was given a shot to play meaningful minutes early, getting thrown into the fire while being viewed as an important part of the team's future. He dealt with his own early-career struggles and had to learn on the fly.

    Sound familiar?

    "He's not one of those guys who responds to the loud talking and yelling and stuff like that," Smith said. "You really have to sit there and talk to him. Look, we're all competitive and in the heat of the moment anything can happen to anyone of us, but he's one of those guys who you really have to take him by the hand and show him what's going on, what's this and what's that. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm like that as well. Just getting to know him and understand what he's about, he's truly one of the most competitive people I've met."

    Thompson, one of the team leaders, has recognized some the same. He said, based on his own interactions, Sexton handles teaching -- and even criticism -- well, as long as it's communicated the right way.

    "I think for him it's slow him down and walk him through it," Thompson said. "Also it's on our coaches and us to show film so he can see it. I think he's more of a visual guy. So instead of saying do this, this, this and this, it's like so much going on in his brain right now so I think you slow it down and next day after practice let's show you the film and show you where it's there or it's here. I think that's how we have to approach it."

    Each day is a chance to learn. Both for Sexton and his teammates. Smith noticed more about Sexton in the Thunder game than he had in the previous 10.

    He recognized how much Sexton likes to play in space. He saw how much of a challenge it was for Sexton to finish over intimidating Steven Adams so Smith told Sexton he would be better off either dribbling back out and resetting or passing off to his teammates. Smith also remarked about the kid's fearlessness, holding his own in a tough matchup.

    Each game is a chance for that connection to grow. That's why that light moment in the locker room between Sexton and Thompson late Wednesday was meaningful.

    It's a far cry from two nights earlier. In Orlando, after not playing the final seven-plus minutes of the fourth quarter, with Drew believing Hill gave the team a better chance to win, Sexton got dressed quickly, threw his hood on and walked back to the same seat on the bench where he was stationed for a majority of that crushing loss.

    That's when he picked up the phone and started voicing his frustration. Trying to cope with another bad night, Sexton needed someone to talk to. His teammates were nowhere to be found.

    At times this season Sexton has probably felt on his own, that guys were piling on and he was the main target.

    The raised palms. The glares to the bench. Shaking heads. Criticism. His teammates condemning him for rookie mistakes. Drew tried to put a stop to all of it a few days ago.

    Sexton did his part Wednesday night.


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    The Saints knocked the Rams off the perfect-record pedestal in Week 9.

    The New Orleans Saints made a huge splash, signing free agent Pro-Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant to add to an already potent offense. Many feel this pickup makes the Saints favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Others believe the Los Angeles Rams are still the team to beat with their genius coach and a roster of stars. Which has a better chance of playing in the championship? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    The Saints have an all-time great quarterback, one of the most explosive players in the league, an unstoppable wide receiver, and a 1,000-yard rusher. Now, the team is adding a Pro-Bowl caliber wideout? There isn't a team in the NFL that can cover all of those weapons. 

    The Saints were the first team to knock the Rams off the perfect-record pedestal in Week 9 without Dez Bryant. This move only solidifies New Orleans' superiority.

    New Orleans might have a sexy, new signing but the Rams are still the team to beat in the NFC. They are second in the league in points scored, as of Week 9, and have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league -- guided by running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Jared Goff. 

    Los Angeles' defense may not have lived up to the preseason hype it had, but the team still has talented players like Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters -- and the front office added Dexter Fowler Jr. via trade. Los Angeles might have hit a road bump on the road in New Orleans, but the Rams can, and will, beat the Saints, and every other team in the NFC, to get to the Super Bowl.

    ESPNRams Super Bowl-or-bust season rests with its defense

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    Hill was a late scratch ahead of Wednesday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The veteran point guard worked out on the floor, going through his usual pregame routine, but complained of pain in his right shoulder and was held out.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The injuries keep piling up for the one-win Cavaliers, as starting point guard George Hill is expected to be out two weeks with a sprained right shoulder, sources told cleveland.com on Thursday.

    Hill was a late scratch ahead of Wednesday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The veteran point guard worked out on the floor, going through his usual pregame routine, but felt pain in his right shoulder and was held out. 

    The Cavs are already without Kevin Love following surgery on his toe. Sam Dekker, Love's primary backup, suffered a sprained ankle on the team's recent road trip and could miss up to a month.

    Cedi Osman, who moved to power forward in a new-look starting group, left Wednesday's game early with lower back spasms and walked out of the arena gingerly following Cleveland's 95-86 loss. The Cavs are hoping the day off will allow him to return for Saturday's game in Chicago. 

    Rookie Collin Sexton will start in Hill's absence. Sexton made his first career start on Wednesday night, scoring a team-high 15 points on 7-of-14 from the field. 

    Hill scored 22 points in the loss to Orlando on Monday night. But had his last shot attempt blocked and suffered the injury on that final possession. 

    In 10 games, all starts, Hill is averaging 12.6 points, 3.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds.

    ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the news of Hill's injury. 


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    Williamson's debut with the Blue Devils has many NBA teams salivating over his talent.

    Zion Williamson's debut with the Duke Blue Devils has many NBA teams salivating over his talent at the next level. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he believes Williamson is a generational, LeBron James-level talent. Williamson's explosive moves at his size are very similar to the future Hall of Famer. But others are a little more skeptical of comparing one of the greatest players ever to a kid who hasn't proven anything yet. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    If you don't think Zion Williamson is the next LeBron James, you haven't been paying attention to this kid. 

    He's a 6-foot-7-inch, 285-pound freight train on the break with explosive dunks rarely seen before, much like James. Not only that, Williamson is an underrated playmaker and is already bullying people on the block with his size. 

    The sky is the limit for Williamson; we could definitely be seeing the next king of the NBA.

    Williamson hasn't played a minute of NBA basketball against grown men and is already being compared to one of the most dominating athletes of our time. Calm yourselves. 

    Sure, Williamson has had some impressive dunks and dominated smaller players, but he hasn't done anything against NBA-caliber talent. We really have yet to see if Williamson can come into the league with the basketball IQ James had and the ability to make plays like the King. The Duke forward has been good but comparing him to James is an insult.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.


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    With the injuries continuing to pile up, including the latest with point guard George Hill who will miss two weeks with a right shoulder sprain, the Cavs needed to add more playable depth. Watch video

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers officially signed Andrew Harrison to a Two-Way contract on Friday. 

    With the injuries continuing to pile up, including the latest with point guard George Hill who is out two weeks with a right shoulder sprain, the Cavs needed to add more playable depth.

    "We're down in bodies and we really needed to add another ball-handler," head coach Larry Drew told reporters following Friday's practice. "That's the reason we brought Andrew in. I'm really excited about him because at that point guard spot he gives us some size. That was one of the intriguing things about him. I remember just playing against him, how he's played well. I'm real excited to have him."

    Harrison, a 6-foot-6 combo guard, appeared in 128 games, making 64 starts, with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. He was waived after just one game this year. 

    In two full season with the Grizzlies, Harrison has averaged 7.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists while playing 21.7 minutes per game.

    Rookie first-round pick Collin Sexton, who made his first NBA start on Wednesday night, will remain the starting point guard in Hill's absence. Jordan Clarkson is also expected to see some time running the offense. Harrison gives Drew another option. 

    "It's not like he's a rookie," Drew said. "He's been with teams where he's played and he's familiar with a lot of things. We're going to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we can so chances are he will be in a position where he will be playing tomorrow night."

    The short-handed Cavs are heading into their game against Chicago without four rotation players, which means Harrison will remain with the NBA team instead of going to the G League. By rule, Harrison can only spend 45 days with the Cavs before they must sign him to an NBA contract. 

    The Cavaliers -- and all other NBA teams -- are only allowed to have two Two-Way contract players on their roster at any given time, in addition to their 15-man roster. 

    With Harrison's addition, Cleveland waived Two-Way forward John Holland. The other Two-Way player on Cleveland's current roster is Billy Preston. 

    The Cavs entered training camp with three point guards looking to lock up roster spots. But Isaiah Taylor suffered a stress fracture in his leg, leaving Cleveland one short in the backcourt while also giving the Cavs an open roster spot -- one that still hasn't been filled.

    According to sources, the Cavs don't plan on signing anyone else and reaching the maximum of 15 roster spots.

    If Harrison plays well during this stretch, that could change.

    "The outside world says whatever they want about them, but I mean, they all seem together. They all seem like they like each other," Harrison said. "Every team goes through their ups and downs, so that's all you can ask for. I'm definitely going to come in and fight every night, every game. I'm going to give it my all. Not going to back down from anyone and just going to encourage my teammates to do the same. It seems like a good group of guys. I'm looking forward to it." 


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    Osman left Wednesday's loss against Oklahoma City midway through the first quarter with lower back spasms and walked gingerly out of the arena later that night.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers swingman Cedi Osman has joined the lengthy list of players that won't suit up for Saturday's game against the Chicago Bulls. 

    Osman left Wednesday's loss against Oklahoma City midway through the first quarter with lower back spasms and walked gingerly out of the arena later that night. The Cavs were hoping the day off would help, but head coach Larry Drew ruled him out of Saturday's game and the Cavs "will see how he is" after the game before making any determination about his status moving forward. 

    Ahead of Wednesday's game, Drew moved Osman to power forward, needing his size with Sam Dekker and Kevin Love already out. That put JR Smith into the starting lineup at small forward. 

    Osman's back injury means Drew will have to shuffle his starting lineup once again. 

    "I don't know about snakebit. Injuries are part of the NBA. Unfortunate this early in the season," Drew said. "When you lose players, other people have to step up. With our situation with KLove out and then Dekker, now George Hill and Cedi, we're looking at four starters that are out. That's just what it is. But we're not going to hang our heads. We had a really good practice today."

    Unless Drew chooses Channing Frye as his starting power forward, which is highly unlikely given that Frye has only played one game, the Cavs will be using their fifth different starter at that spot Saturday night. 

    Drew used two bigs at the same time against the Thunder. Larry Nance Jr. joined Tristan Thompson on the floor when Osman hobbled off. Then Ante Zizic mixed in, playing a season-high 17 minutes. 

    "With two big guys out there, it does give us a little flexibility as far as some of the things we can do on both ends of the floor," Drew said. "Z played well the other night, so I think between the three of those guys, moving forward we could see a combination of either because they do give me flexibility."

    Drew said he has some concerns about the big combo on the defensive end, especially if the team uses a smaller, quicker and more athletic 4-man.

    In the Bulls' most recent game against New Orleans, that's precisely what they did, choosing to go with Jabari Parker alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. 

    "On the offensive end we have an advantage, if we can put them in a position where chances are they could be more successful against a smaller 4 man," Drew said. "But we have to be able to get back in transition with two bigs, we have to be able to defend the pick-and-roll with two bigs. But more importantly, it's got to be a matchup that makes sense. We definitely will explore those opportunities more."


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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (1-10) will try to snap their four-game losing streak, as they play the Chicago Bulls (3-9) on Saturday night.

    CHICAGO -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (1-10) will try to snap their four-game losing streak, as they play the Chicago Bulls (3-9) on Saturday night. 

    When: 8 p.m. 

    Where: United Center

    TV: FoxSports Ohio

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs beat the Bulls 114-109 on March 17, 2018. 

    Cavs minute: Friday marks the first of four games between Central Division rivals. ... The Cavs went 4-0 against the Bulls last season, sweeping the season series for the fifth time in franchise history. ... In the loss against Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, the Cavs had at least six players score in double figures for the seventh time this season (Collin Sexton - 15, JR Smith - 13, Jordan Clarkson - 11, Rodney Hood - 11, Tristan Thompson - 10, Ante Zizic - 10). ... Sexton made his first start on Wednesday night, scoring a team-high 15 points -- the seventh time he has reached the double-digit mark in scoring. Sexton is expected to start once again, as George Hill is sidelined for two weeks with a sprained right shoulder. ... Clarkson (999) is one rebound away from 1,000 for his career. ... Over the last five games (since Oct. 30), Thompson is averaging a double-double (11.6 points and 11.8 rebounds in 30.0 minutes). ... Smith made his first start of the season on Wednesday night, finishing with 13 points, two assists, a steal and a block in 32 minutes. It was his third consecutive game scoring in double figures.

    Bulls minute: The Bulls have lost five of their last six games. They haven't won at home since Oct. 24. ... Wendell Carter Jr., taken one pick ahead of Sexton in the 2018 NBA Draft, ranks seventh among rookies in scoring (11.6), second in rebounds (7.9) and fifth in assists (2.5). He has recorded a double-double in three straight, the first Bulls rookie to accomplish that since Taj Gibson in the 2009-10 season. ... Zach LaVine ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 27.4 points. He scored a career-high 41 on Monday night against the Knicks. LaVine has tallied at least 20 points in 13 consecutive games. ... Six of Chicago's nine losses have come by single digits, three of which were by two points or less. ... Justin Holiday has recorded at least one 3-pointer in his last 17 games played. ... The Bulls rank eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (36.8). 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    F JR Smith

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Bulls

    F Jabari Parker

    F Justin Holiday

    C Wendell Carter Jr.

    G Zach LaVine

    G Cameron Payne

    See Cavs stats

    See Bulls stats


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    The Steelers have a bit of a running back controversy.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have a bit of a running back controversy on the horizon. On one hand, you have James Conner, who is having a career year for the team in the backfield and thriving in a productive offense. On the other hand, you have the incumbent running back Le'Veon Bell, a proven workhouse who has been one of the best running backs in the entire league. Who is the better starter?

    PERSPECTIVES

    Le'Veon who? The only party hurt by this holdout has been the All-Pro running back. The Steelers have found their new workhouse and for a fraction of cost!

    As of Week 10, Conner is second in the league in rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage. He's also fourth in the league in total touchdowns. It's becoming obvious Bell's production was a product of the team rather than his own individual talent. Since Conner doesn't give Steelers management and fans a headache, he is by far the better option.

    Conner is doing well now, but what's going to happen in next year? Two years? He's still an unproven commodity. But Bell isn't.

    The All-Pro running back has shown again and again he can be depended on to carry a workload larger than any current running back and thrive. He's only had fewer than 1,200 yards from scrimmage once in his career and that was because of injury. This is one of the most talented backs to play in the league and many front office people would rather have that than a gamble in Conner.

    For Le'Veon Bell and the Steelers, the deadline to play draws near

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.


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    That means Nance, a 6-foot-9 athletic big who has been serving as the backup center, will play alongside Tristan Thompson in the two-big lineup Nance and Thompson have been asking for since October.

    CHICAGO -- Larry Nance Jr. will get his wish. 

    With Cedi Osman sidelined for Saturday's game against the Chicago Bulls because of lower back spasms, Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew has decided to start Nance at power forward.

    That means Nance, a 6-foot-9 athletic big who has been serving as the backup center, will play alongside Tristan Thompson in the two-big lineup Nance and Thompson have been asking for since October. 

    "I want to see more of them together," Drew said. "When we have a chance to play both of them together, I want to take a look at it. Look at matchups, look at how both guys play together -- something we haven't done a lot of. So I'm very curious to see how well the two of them can play together and see if it will be a good fit or not."

    Nance will become the fifth different power forward the Cavs have started this season. It's also his first start of the season. 

    "When we're out there we're going hard and trying to show them that the lineup can work," Nance said. "We're both versatile and can do a lot of different things to make up for whatever we may lack."

    With Nance in the starting group, Drew will lean on little-used Ante Zizic and David Nwaba to fill the frontcourt minutes for the reserves. 

    The team considered bringing up Billy Preston -- playing for the Canton Charge on a Two-Way contract -- while Kevin Love and Sam Dekker are both shelved until possibly December. But when Osman went down Wednesday night against the Thunder, the organization determined it needed another ball-handler, choosing to sign Andrew Harrison to a Two-Way contract instead. 

    The 1-10 Cavaliers continue to shuffle lineups. Just because Nance is getting the starting nod Saturday night doesn't necessarily mean he will keep the gig. 


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    That's when Sexton used a screen and had exactly what he wanted -- a chance to attack the basket with the game on the line. A chance for his signature rookie moment -- the perfect capper to a career night.

    CHICAGO -- The stage was set for Collin Sexton.

    With the Cleveland Cavaliers down by one in the final seconds, head coach Larry Drew called a play for his prized rookie.

    That's when Sexton went one on one, as the Cavs tried to create confusion with movement. Sexton had exactly what he wanted -- a chance to attack the basket with the game on the line. A chance for his signature moment in a bumpy first month -- the perfect capper to a career night.

    But Sexton's runner rolled off the rim. 

    "I felt like I got to my spot. That was the right spot," Sexton said. "They told me to take that a hundred other times, I'm going to make it next time for sure."

    He got one more chance, grabbing his own rebound and quickly going back up to beat the buzzer. But Jabari Parker swatted the shot away, solidifying the 99-98 Chicago win. 

    Making his second start in George Hill's absence, Sexton continued to thrive in the new role, scoring a career-best 20 points on 8-of-16 from the field and dishing out three assists to go with four rebounds.

    But he will stew on that missed shot at the end, as the Cavaliers head back home to Cleveland riding a five-game losing skid.

    Beyond the end result, this is what the Cavaliers' season is all about. It's why they opted not to tank. They want their youngster in moments like Saturday night, where it's up to him to determine success or failure. That's how players grow in this league. That's how they are measured. 

    Saturday's late-game moment wasn't given to him. It was earned. One of the best players on the floor for the Cavs, he was the best option on the play.

    Sexton missed the shot and pounded the floor as the buzzer sounded. Another lesson in a season filled with them. 

    "I trust him to make that shot any time," Rodney Hood said. 

    The Cavs trailed by 16 points once again. It's the 10th time they've seen that deficit or worse. But yet they kept fighting. Shorthanded, without four key rotation players, they put a scare into the Bulls and showed the kind of heart that should allow them to stay competitive despite being overmatched. 

    As for Sexton, he took another step Saturday night.

    He wanted the ball in crunch time, just as he demanded it during those moments in scrimmages during the off-season. The Cavs showed confidence in him, drawing up the play for him to attack. That's what he had done all night, putting his head down and getting to the rim.

    It's a make or miss league. This time, Sexton missed. 

    But the Cavs can live with everything else about that play -- and their performance overall against Chicago. 

    Helpful hand  

    Tristan Thompson continued his stellar play, scoring a season-high 22 points to go with 12 rebounds. Hood, the de facto second scoring option, hit timely baskets in the fourth quarter, finishing with with 20 points on 7-of-15 from the field.

    Playing big

    There's an inherent problem with using Larry Nance Jr. and Thompson in the starting lineup together -- just as Drew did Saturday night: Ante Zizic has to play big minutes for lengthy stretches.

    Zizic has been at his best in quick bursts. He was extremely productive against the Thunder on Wednesday night.

    But this matchup exposed some of his flaws -- slow feet and poor pick-and-roll defense. 

    The Bulls destroyed the Cavs while Zizic was on the floor, with Chicago outscoring Cleveland by 13 points in 14 total minutes.  

    Quick turnaround

    The second quarter has been problematic for Cleveland this season. Not Saturday.

    After a miserable first quarter, the Cavs rebounded and wiped away a one-time 16-point deficit with stifling defense and movement-based offense. 

    Behind Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver and a tossed together second unit that also featured new arrival Andrew Harrison and rarely-used David Nwaba, the Cavs outscored the Bulls by 14 points in the quarter, tying up the game heading into halftime. 

    Up next

    The Cavs host the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night, the lone home game in between three on the road.


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    The last word on Ohio State's season might not be "playoffs, but it could be. The last word on the Briwns' season is no longer "miserable." It will be " Mayfield."

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - As last words go, at least for Sam Rutigliano's career as an NFL coach, his were unmatched for specificity.

    The late Browns' sportscaster Nev Chandler asked him after the news conference following his firing if he would do anything different. Three and a half seasons after Red Right 88,  Rutigliano said, "Kick field goals."

    Browns banner down

    Before the 1980s were over, the end of the championship-contending Browns as fans knew them had arrived, not with last words but with an ominous event.

    At the news conference Art Modell held at the same time, but at a different place, than his dismissed coach Marty Schottenheimer, the Browns banner hastily thumbtacked to the wall behind Modell fell in a fluttery heap as he began to speak. 

    The Browns have not since risen to the challenge as consistently as they did with Scheottenheimer.

    Last words that lasted, or not

    Andrew Miller was the last word in relieving during the Indians' run to the 2016 World Series, at least until injuries in his next two seasons meant he was not.

    Defining championship contention as reaching the NBA Finals, the first and last word for the Cavaliers was "LeBron."

    We see this in the college ranks at Ohio State, where the loss of Joey Bosa and then his brother Nick were the first and last words for mounting a disruptive pass rush.

    The Browns, speaking the first words in the first round of the NFL draft for the third time since they returned in 1999, said, "Baker Mayfield," hoping he will work out better than did Tim Couch and Courtney Brown. If Mayfield is not the last word in quarterbacking, at least he seems apt to stop the dismal parade of failures.

    The French had words for it

    Then there were the last words of French novelist Francois Rabelais, who, as he lay dying, said of the possibility of an afterlife, "I now go to seek the Great Perhaps."

    Sports words do not convey the end with the exactness of French grammarian Dominique Bouhours, who said, as friends and family surrounded him, "I am about to - or I am going to - die. Either expression is used."

    Present Bucks, future Browns

    An eerie flashback to the Browns' fate even in good times occurred in the Ohio State-Michigan State game Saturday, A shotgun snap deflected off receiver Bennie Fowler, who was  in motion, as Spartans quarterback Rocky Lombardi reached for it. Ohio State recovered the ball in the end zone for a game-breaking  touchdown.

    The nearest the Browns have gotten to the Super Bowl turned on a similar play 32 years ago. 

    On "The Drive," facing third-and-18 late in the game and trailing 20-13, John Elway called for  the snap in the shotgun. Wide receiver Steve Watson swept into the path of the ball as the man in motion, and it deflected off him.  Elway made a shoestring catch and came up firing, connecting for a 20-yard gain. The Browns fell in overtime.

    Ohio State still lives and contemplates the "Great Perhaps" of a Big Ten division and conference championship, then a College Football Playoff berth.

    As for the Browns, by mid season they usually are about to - or are going to - die. Either expression is refused. Sunday's thrashing of Atlanta was Mayfield's coming-out party.

    Are the ghosts being exorcised? The great possibility of "perhaps" beckons.


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    Following a spirited practice session, head coach Larry Drew said there's a chance Korver "may not play" in either of the next two games -- home against Charlotte and on the road against the Washington Wizards.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Kyle Korver and JR Smith both missed Monday's practice, leaving their status for Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets in doubt. 

    Korver, more so than Smith, is the latest worry for Cleveland. 

    Smith was feeling sick so he didn't make it to the practice facility. Korver, meanwhile, complained of foot soreness.

    Following a spirited practice session, head coach Larry Drew said there's a chance Korver "may not play" in either of the next two games -- home against Charlotte on Tuesday and on the road the next night against the Washington Wizards. 

    "We're playing the hand we've been dealt and we're making no excuses," Drew said. "Our guys are still going out there on the court and they're laying it on the line."

    Korver is 37 years old. He's been dealing with foot problems on and off since joining the Cavaliers. It cost him time late in the 2016-17 season. While he's taken different measures to deal with the pain, Korver said at one point last season that years of planting and putting extra strain on his foot when coming off screens has led to the wear and tear.

    The sharpshooter has tried a variety of different shoe types as well, looking for ones that are most comfortable. Earlier this season, he raved to cleveland.com about his new orthotic inserts and how much they had been helping. That was apparently short-lived.

    Korver played 21 minutes against Oklahoma City on Wednesday, scoring seven points on 2-of-8 shooting. Three nights later,  he scored eight points in 20 minutes. 

    In his 16th season, Korver is averaging 5.5 points on 45.7 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from 3-point range in 15.3 minutes -- some of the worst numbers of his career. 

    So add Korver to the list of injuries the Cavs are trying to overcome. 

    Kevin Love remains sidelined for several more weeks. Sam Dekker isn't expected back until possibly December. George Hill has missed the last two games with a strained right shoulder.

    According to Drew, Cedi Osman, who didn't play against Chicago because of lower back spasms, participated in a "couple of things" at practice on Monday and it was "good to see him move around." He was also able to go through drills after practice with player development coach Mike Gerrity, which is a good sign of progress. But Osman remains out and Larry Nance Jr. is expected to make his second straight start in Osman's absence against Charlotte.

    Despite the numerous injuries, the Cavs remain confident when it comes to snapping their current five-game losing streak. 

    "It just tells me these guys are committed to getting it together, regardless of what our injury situation may be or whatever the situation may be," Drew said. "These guys are committed to laying it on the line when they step between the lines."


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    What followed was internal friction, which came out in the Spectrum Center visitor's locker room, and an important get-together in Orlando featuring key veterans.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It was Nov. 3, less than two weeks ago, when the Cleveland Cavaliers hit rock bottom.

    They had just made a recent coaching change, one general manager Koby Altman believed was best for the immediate and long-term health of the organization. Instead, a few games removed from their first win, the Cavs were blown out by 32 points against the Charlotte Hornets -- the same team that's headed to Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night.

    What followed was internal friction, which came out in the Spectrum Center visitor's locker room, and a needed get-together in Orlando.

    "The older guys came together and talked to each other and said let's give everything we've got and teach these guys what it takes to win and put ourselves in winning positions for them to learn what it takes. If we do that then the wins will start to come," Tristan Thompson said when asked to recall that message. "Just take more pride in this. Whatever is going on with our record and whatever is going on with the season, at the end of day we have to play with a sense of pride and have to leave it on the floor. We're all NBA players and it's unacceptable to get beat by 30 by anybody."

    That meeting -- which Thompson said wasn't the typical "team meeting" or "players only meeting" that franchises often have to reverse nasty starts -- hasn't yet led to victories.

    The Cavs have lost three more games on top of the two prior, bringing their current losing skid to five.

    But Larry Drew, named full-time head coach in the aftermath of that embarrassing defeat, believes the Cavs are a different team now.

    They are no longer the one that left Charlotte dejected and frustrated. No longer the one beginning to crack.

    "I think we're starting to kind of figure out each other," Drew said. "I think right now with the team and how we've been playing lately, I think they're starting to understand what I'm looking for. I think we're doing things a little bit better than the last time we played (Charlotte). I don't think we are that same team at this point. I really feel like we've made strides since the last time we played this team."

    Since that inauspicious night in Charlotte, the Cavs have played two games decided in the final possession. They even had a five-point lead against the Magic in the final 40-plus seconds before gagging it away. They pushed likely-playoff-team Oklahoma City, even taking the lead from the Thunder in the fourth quarter, before fading once again.

    Sometimes it's tough to see without the most meaningful result, but for an undermanned group that has been ravaged by injuries and has quickly become the NBA's doormat, that's considered progress.

    "We're right there. I think it started in Orlando last Monday," Thompson said. "Get those wins, two or three of them, and everything is different. I like our fight, how hard guys are playing. Guys aren't giving up. At the end of the day, in order to teach these young guys what it takes to win have to compete every night and it starts on the defensive end. If we're doing that then the wins are going to come."

    Since giving up a whopping 126 points to the Hornets, Cleveland's defense has been stingier. In the last three games, only Orlando, with a little boost from Cavalier blunders, has reached the 100-point mark. 

    On Saturday night, the Cavs lost to the Chicago Bulls -- another one of the teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. That night, Collin Sexton missed his first shot at a game-winner. Yes, the same player who was drawing the ire of the vets following that Charlotte loss, with them wondering if the rookie even knew how to play. Against Chicago, Sexton was again on the wrong end of a critical moment.

    Only the postgame tenor was much different. The Cavs saw growth. They saw a kid who had earned minutes in crunch time with his stellar play throughout, rather than one who was being handed them because of draft position and franchise mandates. They weren't lobbing insults or pointing fingers. They didn't have the body language of a defeated group.

    They were optimistic, bringing a sense of hope back to Cleveland.

    "After the Chicago game, all the guys kept saying, 'We're getting close.' Getting close means we're starting to show that real competitive edge to us," Drew said. "We're starting to play with a sense of urgency. It really comes down to plays going down the stretch. On the road all you can do is put yourself in position to win the game and I thought we did that the other night.

    "As long as we are in those situations, I feel very confident, I feel very good because I know sooner or later we'll be on the other end of that score."

    According to Thompson, players have a better understanding of what Drew wants. Thompson also said there's no reason for the team to grow frustrated. As long as they play the correct way and fight until the final whistle, they should be able to live with the results.

    "Obviously you want to get the W, but these losses haven't been bad losses and they've been losses where one or two minor tweaks and you win the ballgame. So that's a positive about it," Thompson said. "Think they all understand what is going on right now and we're trying to come together as a group and teach guys good winning habits. That's what matters at the end of the day. Teach these young guys good winning habits. That's how you build a culture and a franchise and that's how you continue building success."

    It hasn't even been two weeks since that demoralizing loss. In that time, Drew has become the head coach. The starting lineup, out of necessity, has changed. Lineup combinations and strategies are different. So, too, is the mood. For now.

    "My spirit is good," Thompson said. "In a good place."

    It's all led to the Cavs being much more competitive. That's a start. And it's a long way from where they were on Nov. 3.

    Maybe the Cavs are wrong. Perhaps they are slurping the Wine and Gold Kool-Aid.

    It's possible they aren't really close at all, destined to set a new mark for futility, which they are currently on pace to reach.

    What better way to find out than playing against the team that trampled them once and nearly sent them spiraling into dysfunction.


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    The Cavaliers (1-11) will look to snap their five-game losing skid when they host the Charlotte Hornets (7-6) on Tuesday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers (1-11) will look to snap their five-game losing skid when they host the Charlotte Hornets (7-6) on Tuesday night. 

    When: 7 p.m. 

    Where: Quicken Loans Arena

    TV: FoxSports Ohio; NBA TV

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs lost to the Hornets 126-94 on Nov. 3. 

    Cavs minute: The Cavs have won seven straight home games against the Hornets, their longest active home winning streak against a single opponent. ... In Saturday's loss against Chicago, the Cavs had three players score at least 20 points for the first time this season (Tristan Thompson - 22, Rodney Hood - 20, Collin Sexton - 20). The last time the Cavaliers had three players with 20 points or more in a single game was March 21, 2018 vs. Toronto (LeBron James - 35, Kevin Love - 23, George Hill - 22). ... The Cavs have held the last two opponents below 100 points. ... On Saturday night, Cleveland held Chicago to a season-low 16 points in the second quarter. It was the fourth time this season the Cavs held a team under 20 points in a single quarter. ... Making his second career start, Sexton tallied a career-best 20 points. It was his eighth outing in double figures. ... Thompson, who is averaging a double-double, scored a season-high 22 points to go with 12 rebounds against the Bulls. It was his 12th career 20-10 game and his first since Feb. 6, 2017 at Washington. ... Jordan Clarkson tallied 15 points against the Bulls and has scored double-digits in all 12 games. 

    Hornets minute: Charlotte has won three of the last four games, with all victories coming by double-digits. ... Kemba Walker, the Hornets' all-time leading scorer, ranks second in the NBA in scoring this season. He is averaging 27.9 points. ... Backup point guard Tony Parker tallied 24 points in Charlotte's most recent win on Sunday night. It's the second time in 12 appearances Parker has scored 20-or-more points this season, the most 20-point games he has had through his first 12 appearances since 2014-15. ... The Hornets have compiled 303 assists through 12 games, good for fourth most in the league this season. ... Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will not play because of ankle injury. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Larry Nance Jr.

    F JR Smith

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G Collin Sexton

    Hornets

    F Marvin Williams

    F Nic Batum

    C Cody Zeller

    G Jeremy Lamb

    G Kemba Walker

    See Cavs stats

    See Hornets stats