No panic yet after second straight loss
CLEVELAND — Upon arriving at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavaliers received commemorative watches, the latest gifts to celebrate their NBA championship.
The Los Angeles Clippers then handed them a second straight loss.
J.J. Redick scored 23 points, Blake Griffin matched a career high with 11 assists and the Clippers bounced back from a brutal loss with a 113-94 victory on Thursday night over the Cavs, who have lost two straight for the first time since winning their title.
Afterward, there was no panic inside Cleveland’s locker room, but rather a measured response to the first real adversity this season. The Cavs also lost in Milwaukee on Tuesday, but LeBron James isn’t worried — yet.
“Two pretty poor games for sure,” said James, who scored 16 but had five turnovers. “You’re hoping they’re not back-to-back, but it happens. Now, three games in a row? That’s something to talk about. We need to figure it out. It’s different from football where you have to wait a whole week to redeem yourself.
“We get right back at it (tonight) so we’ll be all right.”
Chris Paul shook off some early foul trouble and scored 16 and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers, who came in hungry after blowing an 18-point lead and falling in double overtime at Brooklyn on Tuesday.
“It’s who we are, I really believe that,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “We actually played to our potential. We had some adversity, which is great. Chris got in foul trouble and we extend the lead. It was a team win.”
Los Angeles took control with a 13-2 run to open the third quarter.
Kyrie Irving scored 28 and Kevin Love 16 for the Cavs, who were outplayed for the second game in a row. During Tuesday’s loss, coach Tyronn Lue pulled his starters in the second half and J.R. Smith wandered off the floor during play and gave up an easy basket.
This wasn’t much better as Lue pulled James, Irving, Smith, Love and Tristan Thompson with seven minutes left as it became very clear there would be no comeback for the Cavs, who are in their first true slump since winning the title in June.
“They were motivated and they came out and played like a desperate team,” Lue said.
Cleveland failed to make 10 3-pointers for the first time this season, ending its league record to start a season at 16 games.
The Clippers outscored the Cavs 27-15 in the third, when James and Co. showed frustration and briefly lost their focus.
Irving and Thompson argued on the floor during a timeout, and James was later called for a technical when he pushed the Clippers’ Alan Anderson to the floor while being fouled on a layup.
The Clippers, who opened the season 14-2, took advantage of Cleveland’s sloppiness at the start of the third quarter and scored eight quick points before Paul’s 3-pointer gave them a 71-52 lead.
“We played the right way,” Paul said. “It was important for us to see what it felt like to win a game, when you’re running them off like we were and you lose three in a row, you need to get that feeling back just to get your locker room back right.”
James isn’t happy about having to wear a Cubs uniform — minus the cleats — to Friday’s game in Chicago after he lost a bet on the World Series to Dwyane Wade.
James wagered on the Cleveland Indians, who were beaten in seven games.
“I fill my bet,” he said. “Don’t make fun of me guys.”
Clippers: Los Angeles had a season-high 33 assists. .. Rivers was fined $15,000 by the NBA for his outburst in Tuesday’s loss. He was assessed two technicals and ejected by referee Ken Mauer. “Not shocked at all,” Rivers said of the penalty given “for verbally abusing a game official and failing to leaving the court in a timely manner after his ejection.” Rivers added, “It was low, so I’m good with it.” … Redick has made a 3-pointer in 76 straight games, the longest active streak in the league.
Cavaliers: James moved past Bob Cousy (6,955) for 16th place on the career assists list. … G/F Mike Dunleavy was a late scratch because of a concussion. Dunleavy was hit in the head during Tuesday’s loss at Milwaukee, but didn’t begin showing symptoms until Thursday, according to a team spokesman. … F/C Channing Frye returned after missing three games following his father’s death.
Clippers: At New Orleans on Friday to conclude a six-game road trip.
Cavaliers: At Chicago on Friday to begin a three-game trip. James will face Wade, his former Miami teammate, for the first time since he signed with the Bulls.