Andre Drummond posted game-highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds, Larry Nance Jr. added 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the host Memphis Grizzlies 94-90 on Thursday.
Both Cleveland and Memphis came into Thursday’s matchup with injury-depleted rosters.
Among the Grizzlies’ key absences were reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Ja Morant as well as Jaren Jackson Jr. The Cavaliers were without leading scorers Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, the latter of whom was scratched from the lineup just before tipoff due to an ankle sprain.
Their shared absences made for an even, back-and-forth matchup from the tip. The lead never expanded beyond single digits either way: Memphis’ largest was eight points, Cleveland’s five.
Despite failing to reach 100 points for a sixth consecutive game, Cleveland shook off an especially slow offensive start of 19 first-quarter points. The Cavaliers shot 43.3 percent from behind the 3-point line, 13 of 30, including a key one by Cedi Osman with 2:27 remaining.
Osman’s basket capped a 16-point game for the guard, and gave Cleveland a lead it never relinquished. Osman made 4-of-11 from deep, and Nance shot a perfect 4-of-4 beyond the arc to pace the Cavaliers.
Isaac Okoro, who on Wednesday made his return from a five-game absence due to COVID-19 protocol, scored the last of his eight points on a victory-sealing dunk with 10 seconds left. The slam followed Okoro’s block of Tyus Jones, initially called a foul but overturned upon review of a coach’s challenge.
The win came on the second half of a back-to-back for Cleveland, part of a season-long, six-game road swing. The Cavaliers can finish the trip 3-3 with a win Saturday in Milwaukee.
Jonas Valanciunas’ 17 points and 10 rebounds led Memphis, which dropped its third straight. Brandon Clarke added 14 points and nine rebounds, Dillon Brooks tallied 11 points and Kyle Anderson scored 10.
Just before tipoff, both teams and the officials walked off the court and knelt at the sidelines in response to Wednesday’s riots on Capitol Hill.