Coming off the worst loss in franchise history, the struggling Cavaliers managed to make Sportscenter’s “Top Ten Plays of the Night” last night. In fact, they made three of the top four plays in the highlight package. Unfortunately, this was the result of yet another sick joke by the four letter network in Bristol that Clevelanders have come to know and love, as all three portrayed the Cavaliers as hapless and passive bystanders to the Jazz highlight show.
Of course, that’s about as accurate a portrayal of this team right now that you can find. The Cavs, as has become custom, quickly fell behind by 20 plus points before the intermission. The Utah Jazz scored 70 points in the first half. Seventy. The Cavs showed some fight in the 3rd quarter to cut the deficit from twenty to ten but when it was all said and done, it was another blowout 22 point loss for the Cavs. They have now lost 22 of their last 23 games dating back to the beginning of December.
I know these players are all making exorbitant amounts of money to play a game, but you have to feel a little bit of sympathy for Antawn Jamison. The forward was playing in his 900th career game. It might as well have been his first with the energy and effort he gave in a game that was hopeless before the first media timeout. He finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds in almost 40 minutes of play. That’s way too many minutes for the veteran but he finished with a plus/minus of only -6 while on the floor last night, a far cry from the astronomical records set on Tuesday night.
With Andy, Boobie, and Joey Graham out with injuries, what little depth the Cavaliers had to begin with is strained even further, D-League levels some would say. Coach Scott played 8 guys last night and Samardo Samuels, Ramon Sessions, and Jamario moon were blitzed when they came off the bench. The forty point second quarter by the Jazz put the game away. With a shortened and weak rotation, actual NBA players like Jamison and Mo are overextended and the Cavs just fall flat in the fourth.
There were shades of the Lakers game in the fourth quarter of this one. The Cavs managed only 16 points as Deron Williams and CJ Miles gashed them on the other end to put on the aforementioned highlight show. Miles had a huge double clutch posterization dunk of JJ Hickson on his way to a +30 performance in only 27 minutes played. There was little the Cavaliers could do to stop them.
After the 39 point second quarter blitzing, the Cavs did come out of the locker room with a little fight in them. In fact, they won the third quarter by ten points while buckling down on defense and holding the Jazz to merely 23 points in the 3rd. Unfortunately, the game is still four quarters and Coach Scott recognized as much in his post game comments:
“I was pleased to see the second half that we came out and had some fight in us, came out and played hard and got ourselves back into the ball game. I was very pleased by that, but very disappointed by the way we started as well.The first half, we just didn’t execute defensively at all. The second half, we did a much, much better job of executing on the defensive end, and that got us a chance to get back into the game. We’ve got to understand we’ve got to do that for 48 minutes. We can’t make up stuff. That’s what our guys were doing the first half. They were making up stuff defensively that we just don’t do.”
The Cavs have little time to lick their wounds as they continue their Western Conference swing tonight in Denver. The Nuggets are 17-4 at home and coming off a blowout win over the Heat in which they scored 130 points. Thankfully, this will be the final game of the road trip.