© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers Lose Season Opener, 132-121 to Memphis

1280px-cleveland_cavaliers__15059226273_.jpg
Erik Drost/Wikimedia Commons
/

The Cleveland Cavaliers were unable to come away with a win in the opening game the season, losing 132-121 on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Cavs are in the fourth year of the second post-LeBron James era, and has posted just 60 wins the last three seasons.

To try to turn the tide, the team made key additions this offseason.

Veterans like Ricky Rubio and Lauri Markkanen were added via trade, and Jarrett Allen was re-signed to a five-year, $100 million deal. No. 3 overall pick Evan Mobley is in the starting lineup, along with other young players, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and Collin Sexton.

The Cavaliers and Sexton could not come to a deal on his rookie contract extension before Monday's deadline. So, Sexton will be able test the market at the end of this season as a restricted free agent.

Sexton, 22, was the team's No. 8 overall pick in 2018. In his fourth season, he's averaging just over 20 points per game and was in the NBA's top-50 for scoring last season.

While the Cavaliers ultimately control whether they want to match any contract a team offers him this offseason, it appears clear they did not feel Sexton is worth a max contract at this point.

Game summary
Opening night was full of key first half contributions from players like Sexton, Garland and rookie Mobley.

Double-digit efforts before the half from Allen, Sexton and Cedi Osman kept the Cavaliers close at half, but still down 12.

Third-year point guard and former rookie of the year Ja Morant took over for Memphis. It seemed that every time the Cavaliers made a run, Morant would make a highlight dunk or contested play to end the momentum.

Morant finished with 37 points and six assists.

Down close to 20 at some points, clutch 3-point shots from the backcourt duo of Garland and Sexton, along with paint domination from Mobley, allowed them to get within one point in the fourth quarter.

Still, the Grizzles continued their momentum, spoiling hopes of a season-opening comeback win for the Cavaliers.

Despite the loss, optimism remains high following Mobley's 17-point, nine-rebound game. Allen scored 25, and there were 38 total team assists.

On Friday, the Cavs welcome LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets to the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Friday.