Minus Top 3 Players, Cavaliers Lose 93-85 to Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The defending NBA champion Cavaliers left an average of almost 71 points per game back in Cleveland.
The result was their lowest-scoring output of the season and a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
With stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love resting in Ohio, the Grizzlies built an early lead, extended it to 15 in the first half and 25 in the fourth quarter before coasting to a 93-85 victory over the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
"It's the NBA and some guys are going to rest and some guys are not," said Memphis guard Troy Daniels, who led the Grizzlies with 20 points. "I think we play to win each and every game no matter who's playing."
Marc Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies. Tony Allen finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals as Memphis won for the seventh time in eight games. The only loss during that stretch was a 103-86 defeat Tuesday night in Cleveland.
With the team's top three scorers not on the one-day trip, the Cavaliers managed only nine 3-pointers — matching their fewest in a game this season.
James Jones made three shots from outside the arc and led Cleveland with 15 points. Cavaliers rookie Kay Felder scored a season-high 14 in 23 minutes.
"I know Coach (Tyronn) Lue said plenty of times — and we have said the same — at the end of the day, we are here to win," Jones said. "And we are going to do everything we need to put ourselves in a position to be as good as we can be when it really matters in the postseason."
Memphis took advantage of the missing Cavaliers and carried a 47-36 advantage into the break.
The Cavaliers opened the second half with nine straight points, but the Grizzlies continued to connect from beyond the arc. By the end of the third quarter, Memphis was 11 of 17 from long distance and had a 74-53 lead.
Even though there were times Cleveland chipped into the margin in the fourth, it was never enough for Memphis coach David Fizdale to put Gasol back in the game.
Cavaliers: Cleveland's 16 points were the team's fewest in a first quarter this season. ... Mike Dunleavy made his second start of the season, and Channing Frye his first. ... Jones, who entered 11 of 14 from 3-point range, hit his first two 3s before finishing 3 of 5. ... J.R. Smith had eight points without a 3-pointer, leaving him two 3s short of passing Craig Ehlo for eighth place in franchise history.
Grizzlies: Gasol had his 12th game with multiple 3s. ... Memphis made 12 3-pointers, reaching double figures for the ninth time this season. ... Memphis is 7-0 on the second night of a back-to-back.
NOT REALLY THAT CLOSE
The final score made the game appear closer than it was because Cleveland scored the last eight points. That was the only time the Cavaliers were within single digits since about 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
NO REST FOR THOMPSON
While the Big Three sat out for the Cavaliers, center Tristan Thompson played in his 394th consecutive game — the longest current streak in the NBA. "I know the streak is important," Lue said before the game. "It's a great streak to be a part of when you're durable and ready to play every single night."
FOCUS ON LeBRON
Some fans were disappointed that the Cavaliers left James, Irving and Love at home — especially because it was Cleveland's only trip to Memphis this season. Some paid hundreds of dollars to see James in particular. One youngster held up a sign that read: "LeBron. Thanks for ruining my Christmas!"
"You know, guys sit their guys every night," the Cleveland coach said. "But when the Cavaliers do it or LeBron does it, it's something different. I understand, too, because these people were waiting to see LeBron play."
Lue said he never had to worry about a night off for rest in his career. "I didn't play a lot anyway," he said, "so I wanted to get out there. I didn't care if I had no legs or not."
Cavaliers: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
Grizzlies: Continue an eight-game stretch that includes seven at home when they face Sacramento on Friday night. It will mark the return of former Memphis coach Dave Joerger.