CLEVELAND — Two starters returned, but the losing ways didn’t depart.
With Tristan Thompson and Rodney Hood back in the lineup, the Cavaliers still got dominated while losing 117-92 to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland fell to an NBA-worst 8-30 after losing its season-high seventh straight game and for the ninth time in 10 games, while Miami, which played without Dwyane Wade (illness), evened its record at 18-18 after smoking the Cavs for the second time in six days.
“It was a combination of everything,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said after watching his team get outscored 95-69 over the final three periods.
Defensively, the taller and stronger Heat threw a zone at the Cavs late in the first period and into the second, and Cleveland’s offensive woes carried over into every other aspect of the game.
“Their zone just really bothered us,” Hood said. “They’ve got a lot of length and they talk. It bothered us in Miami (in a 118-94 loss Friday), too. We’ve got to find a way to be efficient.
“Obviously, you want to continue to get stops. But after so long, when you’re not scoring, it gets hard to play against a good team.”
No one played well for the Cavs, who had just four players score in double figures, with a high of 14.
Thompson had eight quick points and finished with 14 after missing 10 games with a sprained foot, but grabbed only two rebounds in 23 minutes.
Hood had 13 points after missing four games with a sore Achilles, but did little else, while Collin Sexton had 12 points and four assists and Jordan Clarkson had 11 points.
Sexton went 5-for-15 from the field and is now 47-for-141 (.333) over his last 10 games. The 19-year-old had four assists in the first 5:47 of the game and none over the final 42:13.
“Once we got down, I thought our whole mentality changed,” Drew said. “We were more about getting our own shots.”
Shooting guard Josh Richardson led the Heat with 24 points, while Tyler Johnson had 16 off the bench. On a night when there were 83 missed shots, Miami outrebounded Cleveland 47-22, with Hassan Whiteside leading the way with 12. The Heat also made 16 of 31 3-pointers, including 14 of 25 over the final three periods.
“We can’t shy away from any physical collision,” Drew said. “That’s boxing out. Right now, we’re not built that way mentally.”
A Richardson 3-pointer at the third-period buzzer put the Heat up 93-73. Miami outscored Cleveland 71-50 in the middle quarters, due in large part to 11-for-14 3-point shooting.
The Cavs never threatened after that.
“If a shot goes in, good,” Sexton said. “If it doesn’t, we have to keep the same mindset so it doesn’t affect us at the other end.”
After a slow start, Miami made 13 of its first 15 shots in the second period — and all six of its 3-pointers — to go up 58-41 late in the first half.
The Heat settled for a 58-43 lead at intermission, at which time it was outrebounding the Cavs 25-9 and held a 31-12 edge in bench scoring. Whiteside matched Cleveland’s team total on the boards, which included none from Thompson in 15 minutes.
Derrick Jones Jr., a rookie from Georgia, had 11 points in the second period for Miami, going 4-for-5 from the field and 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.
“We could not stop them,” Drew said. “That’s when we got into a little trouble. ... Our defense let us down. We just didn’t get stops.”