Dribbles: Isaac Okoro erupts, but Cavs’ best can’t overcome Suns

Isaac Okoro | NBAE Getty images

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 134-118 overtime home loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

1. You have to give the Cavs credit here. They played their tail ends right off — and for 48 minutes, gave the top team in the Western Conference all it could handle.

2. The Suns came in with the idea that they would force rookie Isaac Okoro to beat them. Okoro is averaging less than 9 points a game, so it made sense. But man, did Okoro make them pay and it was an impressive sight to behold.

3. Okoro sizzled to the tune of 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting. He is also showing flashes of becoming the type of pesky wing defender the Cavs keep insisting he will become. Question is, at 6-foot-5, is he a small forward or a shooting guard?

4. It’s true that the Suns likely took the Cavs lightly. Phoenix did whatever it wanted in the OT and the Cavs couldn’t do a thing. But it’s not about results anymore — and that’s probably a good thing. The Cavs (21-44) aren’t getting them.

5. So in lieu of actual wins, coach J.B. Bickerstaff will settle for determination and signs that things won’t always be this way. For one night, Bickerstaff should feel proud that the Cavs displayed both of those things.

6. As you also know, the Cavs were forced to keep it close without the likes of injured starter Darius Garland, as well as injured key subs Larry Nance Jr., Matthew Dellavedova, Taurean Prince, Isaiah Hartenstein and a few others.

7. It seems doubtful any of those guys will return this season. Dellavedova isn’t real likely to return at all, and his run as a Cavalier may be over for good.

8. Anyway, along with Okoro, the usual suspects led the Cavs, with Collin Sexton scoring 29 points, Jarrett Allen recording 17 (on 7-of-11 shooting) and even Cedi Osman going for 16. Sexton knows just one speed — full.

9. As for Kevin Love, it’s been an on-again-off-again season, that’s been mostly off. He was 2-of-10 from the field for seven points. The more you watch Love, the more you believe the Cavs have a $60 million problem on their hands. Trading him this offseason will be near impossible, but this franchise has to try with all its might.

10. Bottom line: It will be very difficult for the Cavs to take the next steps forward with Love on the roster. Especially if they keep pampering him. He truly has done nothing to warrant minutes beyond those reserved for an eighth or ninth man.

11. One thing the Cavs will also need to do, if they want to take the next step, is go out and get a veteran who has “been there before.” The Suns did it with Chris Paul, and he’s given them the type of winning boost that a coach or front office can’t do. Only a teammate can.

12. Nance can be one of those guys, provided he is able to remain relatively healthy next season. But the Cavs will need more. Love and Delly are no longer the answers in that department.

13. And if the Cavs don’t find someone, they’re highly likely to be right here (or close to right here) again next season — touting youth while offering little evidence it can do anything more than have an occasional individual scoring eruption.

14. That said, it is good to see Anderson Varejao back, and about to retire with team for which he made his name. It’s a safe bet he’ll get in at least one of these final seven games.

15. Overall, the Cavs have lost seven straight and 10 of 11. Yikes. They face the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, the second night of a back-to-back.

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and NBA.com.

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