CHICAGO — The rookie could have been a hero.
Instead, he and the Cleveland Cavaliers came up short again when rookie point guard Collin Sexton missed a shot right at the basket in the final seconds against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Final score: Bulls 99, Cavaliers 98.
Sexton got his own rebound but then had the ball swatted away by Jabari Parker.
“I felt like I got to my spot and that was the right spot,” Sexton said. “They told me to take that, I’m going to make it the next time.”
Cavs coach Larry Drew said Sexton executed the final play perfectly, he was just stopped.
“We got the shot that we wanted,” Drew said. “It was clear off of Collin, he got all the way to the basket and the ball didn’t go in.”
Tristan Thompson had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the league-worst Cavs (1-11). Sexton scored a season-high 20 points in his second straight start and second of his career. Still, the 19-year-old couldn’t connect on the final shot as he played more than 34 minutes.
Rodney Hood also had 20 points and Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to score 15, but the Cavaliers lost their fifth straight. Cleveland’s only win this season was Oct. 30 over Atlanta.
Zach LaVine scored 24 points to lead the Bulls, while rookie Ryan Arcidiacono added 15 and Chicago rebounded after blowing an early 16-point lead.
Wendell Carter Jr. also had 15 points as Chicago won for the second time in six games.
LaVine has scored 20 more points in each of Chicago’s 13 games this season and in a career-high 14 straight overall, dating to his final game of 2017-18. The last Bulls player to score 20-plus points in 14 consecutive games was Jimmy Butler, who did it 15 straight times in 2016.
“I thought it was Zach’s best game as far as making the simple play,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We’ve really been on him about making the right play and the right read, and tonight I thought he was really about that when they were blitzing him on the floor.”
But Cleveland nearly pulled this one out after LaVine’s lone turnover. With 13 seconds left, Wendell Carter Jr. couldn’t handle LaVine’s pass and Cleveland recovered setting up the final play.
“I made a dumb mistake at the end,” LaVine said. “I shouldn’t have nonchalant passed it to Wendell. That was my bad, but we made a good stand.”
The 23-year-old LaVine was flashy at times, scoring on several highlight-reel dunks. Arcidiacono, making his first career start, scored 10 of his points in the first half.
“I thought I was able to get into a rhythm when I got a few defensive possessions and got on the floor once,” Arcidiacono said.
Cavs forward Cedi Osman sat out the game with back spasms. He was forced to leave Wednesday’s loss to Oklahoma City in the first quarter, becoming the latest Cavs player to join an injury list that includes All-Star forward Kevin Love, point guard George Hill and forward Sam Dekker.
The Bulls came out firing, shooting 64 percent from the floor through the first quarter and taking a 37-23 lead as LaVine scored 11 points and Arcidiacono had 10.
Then Chicago opened its biggest lead, at 16 points, when Antonio Blakeney hit a running jumper 42 seconds into the second quarter.
But Cleveland roared back to tie it at 53 at halftime, outscoring Chicago 30-16 in the second quarter, including a 9-0 run. The Cavs’ bench, led by Clarkson with 10 points and Kyle Corver with eight in the quarter, led the comeback.
Chicago led 79-77 after three quarters.
Butler trade reaction
Hoiberg thinks Butler, who spent his first six seasons with Chicago, will be “really good fit” with the Philadelphia 76ers. Butler is being traded from Minnesota to Philadelphia in a package that sends Dario Saric and Robert Covington to the Timberwolves, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Saturday.
“I think (Philadelphia has) three of the best players at their position in (Joel) Embiid and (Ben) Simmons,” Hoiberg said. “He brings a toughness. He’s a guy who’s a great player in the clutch. He’s a player that guys are going to go out there and guard every time he steps on the floor.”
CAVALIERS: Guard Andrew Harrison, signed to a two-way contract, made his debut with the Cavs and played 13 minutes off the bench. He did not score. Harrison made 64 starts over the past two seasons for Memphis, but was waived by the Grizzlies after one game this season.
** With Osman out, JR Smith and Larry Nance Jr. were Cleveland’s starting forwards.
** Against the Thunder on Wednesday in his first career start, Sexton played 42 minutes and had 15 points while shooting 7-for-14 from the field.
BULLS: Arcidiacono replaced Cameron Payne, who had started in 11 of Chicago’s first 12 games, in the starting lineup. Payne didn’t play Saturday.
“(Arcidiacono) is a guy who is going to go out there and play with toughness,” Hoiberg said. “He’s somebody we feel deserves this opportunity to go out there. He gets us extra possessions. He gets you into things offensively.”
CAVALIERS: Host Charlotte on Tuesday.
BULLS: Host Dallas on Monday.
Bulls 99, Cavs 98
CLEVELAND (98): Smith 1-4 0-0 2, Nance Jr. 1-8 0-2 2, Thompson 10-14 2-4 22, Sexton 8-16 2-2 20, Hood 7-15 4-4 20, Zizic 2-4 0-0 4, A.Harrison 0-4 0-0 0, Korver 3-5 0-0 8, Clarkson 6-16 1-2 15, Nwaba 1-5 3-4 5. Totals 39-91 12-18 98.
CHICAGO (99): Holiday 3-8 0-0 7, Parker 5-13 3-4 13, Carter Jr. 5-6 5-8 15, Arcidiacono 6-8 0-1 15, LaVine 9-22 5-5 24, Hutchison 2-5 1-2 6, Lopez 2-3 0-0 4, S.Harrison 3-5 0-1 6, Blakeney 4-12 0-0 9. Totals 39-82 14-21 99.
Cleveland 23 30 24 21 — 98
Chicago 37 16 26 20 — 99
3-Point Goals—Cleveland 8-21 (Korver 2-3, Sexton 2-3, Clarkson 2-4, Hood 2-4, A.Harrison 0-1, Smith 0-1, Nance Jr. 0-2, Nwaba 0-3), Chicago 7-18 (Arcidiacono 3-4, Blakeney 1-1, Hutchison 1-2, Holiday 1-4, LaVine 1-4, S.Harrison 0-1, Parker 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Cleveland 53 (Nance Jr. 14), Chicago 38 (LaVine 8). Assists—Cleveland 15 (Clarkson 4), Chicago 20 (LaVine 5). Total Fouls—Cleveland 17, Chicago 19. Technicals—Hood. A—21,506 (20,917).