The Cleveland Cavaliers will visit the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night in a game that will feature two encouraging teams.
The Hornets, who are 5-2 overall, have alternated wins and losses in the past five games, capped by Sunday night’s 125-113 victory against visiting Portland.
The Cavaliers (3-4) have sparked some confidence as well, winning three in a row before stumbling to the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns on consecutive nights.
“Now we have to continue to do the work,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
This is a rematch from Charlotte’s 123-112 victory Oct. 22 in Cleveland.
The Hornets got guard Terry Rozier back in the lineup Sunday night as he provided 14 points in 33 minutes. During his absence, there were benefits, however.
“It shows our depth,” said James Borrego, who posted his 100th career victory as Charlotte’s coach on Sunday. “The improvement of these young guys … so overall positives.”
And veteran players have helped the depth as well. Guard Ish Smith has boosted the Hornets in the backcourt.
“He has just been a great example and mentor for (LaMelo Ball),” Borrego said. “Ish has not only been a great example, but he has been productive as well.”
Ball, a second-year guard, did his part against Portland with 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley was 1-for-6 from the field for two points at Phoenix.
If nothing else, there has been bench production for Cleveland. Its leading scorer and rebounder in Phoenix were reserves Cedi Osman and Kevin Love, respectively.
The Cavaliers were stung by 18 turnovers in the game.
“When we don’t turn the ball over, a lot of good things happen with our offense,” Osman said. “We’re not going to be perfect every night. We just have to make the right plays. I believe our offense is really good. … Of course, we want to play fast. But we also have to play smart.”
The shooting percentage is bound to go up, Love said.
“Sometimes we get a little stagnant on the offensive end,” Love said. “But, like I’ve said, the offensive part is going to come. We’re going to make shots. A number of us haven’t shot it particularly well from 3 all year, myself included.”
There could be some overpassing at times with the offense, Love said.
This concludes a five-game road trip for Cleveland, with the first four games of this stretch against Western Conference foes.
“There’s another chance to play against a good team in Charlotte and finish on a high note for this road trip,” Osman said.
Part of the solution must come on defense for the Cavaliers.
“In transition is where we get hurt the most with our defense,” Love said, pointing to the fallout from too many turnovers.
Love said there was a fatigue issue that might have come into play Saturday night in Phoenix. With that in mind, he said it won’t be any easier on the final leg of the trip.
“This has been a tough stretch for us,” Bickerstaff said.
The Cavaliers are learning how to deal with a busy schedule, something that must be taken into account with their approach.
“When we take care of the basketball, we get the shots we want,” Bickerstaff said. “We have to be a type of offense where the ball moves. … How do we make the game easier for ourselves.”
Hornets forward Miles Bridges has reached the 30-point mark three times this season, matching his total in that category from his first three NBA seasons combined.
This will be part of Charlotte’s second set of games on back-to-back nights. The first time, they lost the second game in overtime at home to the Boston Celtics last Monday.