Archive for February, 2011

Recap: Cavs 126, Clippers 119 (Or, CAVS WIN!)

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Overview: The Cleveland Cavaliers ended the longest losing streak in NBA history with an overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

OH MY GOD THE CAVS WON BULLETS:

It feels very, very strange that this team is worse than its record indicates. This is this team’s second win since November. Both of those wins have come in overtime, and both were tied by Mo Williams on the last Cavs play of regulation. Four of the team’s nine wins have been in overtime games or games decided by three points or less, and the team has won zero games by double-digits.

In a lot of ways, this game was a referendum on the Clippers. This is a 4-19 team on the road, and despite all the hype around Blake Griffin, the team has some serious issues. And Blake Griffin, as great as he is, has some serious issues.

The good news for Cavs is that J.J. Hickson was a beast. The mitigating factor there is that Blake isn’t much of a help defender — he has all the physical tools to be a monster on the weak side, but he’s been allowed to coast defensively in Del Negro’s system. Still, J.J. has looked great for the last couple games, and he continued to look great tonight.

27 points and 14 rebounds is great news — what makes it even better is that only two of J.J.’s points came from outside of the paint. Hickson’s finally getting back to attacking. He still made some big mistakes (how big did that ridiculous travel with .5 left in the first half almost end up being?), but he’s showing why Cavs fans were so excited about him before the season. And his defense on Blake in the post late was great. (Blake’s other major weakness — he has no moves over his right shoulder in the post. He should spend all summer working on that left hand.) And that block? WOW. WOW WOW WOW. Hickson’s 22, and he outplayed Blake on Friday. That’s good stuff.

Oh, and that last block looked like a goaltend in real time. It was pretty close on the replay, but 9 times out of 10 you get called for a goaltend if you try to get a block from that far out of position. Cavs caught a break there.

Mo Williams looked hobbled and forced some shots, but his playmaking definitely helped, and he was there to make the big shot to tie the game. It’ll be interesting to see how the team works him back in.

Ah, Jamison. Of course he would be responsible for breaking the streak. He was great offensively, making his shots from outside and drawing fouls inside. And that late three-pointer may have been the defense. He was still Jamisonian defensively, and if the Cavs had lost I’d have a lot of thoughts about how this team cannot get a defensive stop to save its life, but he was feeling it tonight.

Daniel Gibson. What a clutch shooter. The guy is a machine.

That’s honestly all I have for tonight. Crazy to think the streak is actually over. Crazier to think that a home win against the Wizards would give the Cavs two wins in a row. I’ll see you on Sunday.

CAVS WIN A GAME!

Friday, February 11th, 2011


Recap coming. Open thread now. Holy crap, the Cavs won.

Links To The Present: February 11, 2011

Friday, February 11th, 2011

“The losing streak is now 26. The collapse is 36 defeats in 37 games. The record is 8-45. The Cavaliers’ season is now in clear violation of the Eighth Amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.” [Mike Lopesti]

“While losing 26 straight games in any sport at any level is mind-boggling and almost impossible to do, this new level of rock bottom for Cleveland that has reached horrific proportions goes far beyond just the departure of LeBron James.” [Nick Carrabine]

“We’re all unhappy when it comes to winning and losing, we’re all unhappy with the way things are going, but [there has been] no indication about job being in jeopardy or anything like that.” [Byron Scott via Mary Schmitt Boyer]

“We are beginning to hear murmurs that the Chicago Bulls may have eyes for Parker, especially if he can prove his back is 100% after he missed 8 games in January.  Parker wouldn’t bring the Cavaliers much – likely a 2nd Round pick – but draft picks are assets, assets that can be used in a package for bigger assets.” [John Bena]

On The Twitters

“Mo Williams (hip) will play tonight versus the Clippers.” [Scott Sargent]

“I’d kill for Mike’s tell-all. RT @gmyers04 Brown talking about Sloan on ESPN. Was asked how it is to have a player try to run your team.” [Eric Knappenberger]

Links To The Present: February 10, 2011

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The main story being reported by several media outlets today is that Byron Scott is deeply dissatisfied with his team’s play. Not because they’re terrible so much as they spend large chunks of games going through the motions. Scott went so far as to call last night’s loss to the Pistons “a gigantic step backwards.” This isn’t news to anyone who has been watching this team fro the past few months, but Scott has largely maintained his cool throughout the team’s tumultuous losing streak. It remains to be seen how much good yelling and screaming is going to do, but at least someone’s angry.

Scratch that, Mary Schmitt Boyer is angry as well: “I would like to see any evidence that this pathetic, gutless team has a heartbeat or any sign of life. I see none. After a shameful showing that was an affront to anybody who works for a living, I see guys walk out of the locker room with food, heading to the rest of their evenings. Nobody’s embarrassed. Nobody’s inconvenienced. Nobody seems to care.”

Injury notes: Leon Powe is hopeful he will return to action this Friday, and Mo Williams is close to 100%.

On The Twitters

“Last 5 Games: Ramon Sessions 19.8ppg 10.4ast 4.6rbs 2.0stls on 59.6% shooting – JJ Hickson 19.2ppg 10.2rbs on 52% shooting” [Michael A. Young]

“BScott: ‘I just have a lot of confidence in what I do. I know I’m the right man for the job.’” [Jason Lloyd]

“Game last night was infinitely winnable. Cavs give same effort as past two weeks, streak ends. But no, and no. And so it marches on.” [Eric Knappenberger]

Recap: Pistons 103, Cavs 94 (Or, thank you for coming to Cleveland. Have a win.)

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Overview: The Detroit Pistons manhandled a disinterested Cavalier team, extending their losing streak to a league-record 26 games.

Well, this is what happens when a terrible team doesn’t try bullets:

Yeesh. Where should I start? The offense came out flat. The defense had some breakdowns, and 91 of the Pistons’ 103 points came from the paint, the free-throw line, or beyond the arc.

The worst part, though, were the unforced errors. Guys running into each other on fast breaks. Ridiculous three-second violations. An inbounds pass got stolen at one point. This team is trying to snap the longest losing streak of all time, and they played like they had the league’s best record locked up. Every time the Cavs got close, they forced shots and gave the Pistons easy looks.

There aren’t words for that kind of a performance. This team deserves nobody’s pity. LeBron James didn’t prevent Antawn Jamison from boxing out or showing on a pick-and-roll. Anderson Varejao being injured doesn’t mean that Ryan Hollins has to stand in the paint for three seconds for no particular reason. Because of what happened in the off-season, this team was going to be bad. Very bad. That’s expected, and the injuries didn’t help.

But this? No wins in 26 games, one win since November? 0 wins by double-digits? A team that only occasionally plays hard enough to keep itself in the game, and doesn’t have the discipline to capitalize when they actually have a chance to win? That can’t be blamed on three role players who left. That can’t be blamed on injuries to a very good defensive player and a shoot-first point guard who doesn’t make many shots is hurt. And that certainly can’t be blamed on a television show.

This is on the people playing for this team, and the coaching staff. There are excuses for not being able to win against the best teams in the league on a given night. There are reasons why this team should be one of the worst teams in the league. There’s no excuse for playing like the worst team of all time.

No team in the history of the NBA has ever lost this many games in a row. Not one team. In the history of the NBA. There’s no excuse for being that bad. Someone on this team or this coaching staff has to take some responsibility, and the fans have to start holding some people who are actually losing these games accountable. Because LeBron James isn’t walking through that door, folks. And there’s nothing noble about the way this team accepts its fate or blunders its way into defeat game after game after game after game. It’s not martyrdom. It’s just terrible basketball.

If Byron Scott isn’t doing a terrible job of coaching this team, than what would a terrible job look like? Are we supposed to be celebrating the fact that no Cavalier has bitten an opponent yet? That the Cavaliers run offensive sets and all five of their players stay inbounds? That Antawn Jamison is technically on the floor when the other team has the ball, and not giving quotes about how he’s enduring this latest hardship inflicted upon him with good humor, eating popcorn, and talking to his agent about a potential trade?

The guy’s shown he can coach a Finals team, and we all know how much better Doc Rivers looked as a coach when he got some elite players. But I do not understand why he’s getting a free pass this year. Would people really rather believe this is the worst collection of players ever assembled than admit that these Cavaliers aren’t scrappy champions of truth, justice, and the American way who just happen to be incapable of actually winning a game?

Rant over. Individual notes:

Sessions continues to really impress. When he’s pushing the ball or driving, things are working. Hickson, too — he’s looked really active. Both had some bad moments on defense, but they’re the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

I’ll give Jamison some credit — after a signature Jamison pick-and-roll breakdown that led to an open three and Charlie V tip dunk that happened because Jamison had no interest in boxing him out, he didn’t cause that many catastrophic defensive breakdowns in the second half. Also, I noticed that Jamison actually showed properly on a pick-and-roll in the third quarter — after he’d made some jumpers to put the Cavs back in the game. So maybe the problem really is that he just doesn’t care about defense at all! WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!

That’s all I have for tonight. This team is taking years off my life.

Links To The Present: February 9, 2011

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

This is a day upon which Cavs fans are blessed with, if not a competent basketball team, some really excellent Cavs-related journalism. I recommend sinking your teeth into each of the three features collected below.

“Dan Gilbert is quite familiar with incurring and then paying off debt. It is his primary business as a wealthy mortgage broker. The Cavaliers’ owner and his organization, though, didn’t plan for the balloon payment they’re being forced to swallow in what has become a miserable winter in Cleveland.” [Brian Windhorst]

“This team is awful, and it’s not the team’s fault. It’s the fault of Dan Gilbert, whose hubris and ego led him to believe that he could coddle James and get away with it for years, believing that the narcissistic superstar would give Cleveland the hometown discount in preferring Mo Williams over Dwyane Wade. When James declined, Gilbert’s ego led him to believe that the team that James (and Danny Ferry and Mike Brown) left behind would be worth anything on its own.” [Kelly Dwyer]

“[Is] the ultimate emptiness any different? The end result is still the name “Cleveland” being found on the losing side of the equation. Sure, the stage may not be as large on a mid-week game within the bitter winds of February, but the feeling should be the same, right?” [Scott Sargent]

In the vein of Sean Deverey’s article yesterday, here’s an article from Joel Brigham of Hoopsworld detailing possible Cavaliers “saviors.” As stated before, I have problem with the “savior” tag, but to keep ourselves sane in the midst of this sanity-testing win drought, it’s healthy to keep our eyes on the horizon.

Minor notes: Byron Scott says that Mo Williams and Leon Powe got through practice alright on Tuesday, but they will not play in tonight’s game against Detroit and are doubtful for Friday’s Clipper tilt. And Boobie Gibson will be competing in the 3-point contest over All-Star weekend.

On The Twitters

“Mo comes off the worst in Windhorst’s #Cavs story. Out of shape & depressed with conditioning injuries. Was he crying & eating Bon Bons too?” [Michael A. Young]

“‘This is not a curse, its a god damned Greek tragedy.’ My email comes up with another gem.” [realcavsfans]

“#lasttimethecavswon dies tonight. #Believeland” [Eric Knappenberger]

Links To The Present: February 8, 2011

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

“When it was over, when the Cleveland Cavaliers officially claimed the longest losing streak in NBA history, Byron Scott smiled and shook his head. Antawn Jamison grimaced in disbelief” [Jason Lloyd]

We’ve gone from a slow drip of Cavs coverage yesterday to a surging torrent of (pretty redundant) opinions, analysis, and predictions. I guess this is the difference between being terrible and historically terrible. Noam from Hardwood Paroxysm comments on this phenomenon by coming to a brilliantly simple conclusion: the Cavaliers are really bad and should probably be ignored by any non-Cavs fans for the next few years. There’s no real need to discuss this team’s awfulness on the “A” block of PTI other than for the purposes of pity and gawking.

“The season’s over in what, 60 days? So in 60 days you go from being a suffering franchise to having the best odds of getting the first pick and a ton of [salary] cap room, and you’re the hero all summer.” [Mark Cuban via Jodie Valade]

Speaking of high draft picks, Sean Deveney speculates as to whether or not “Jared Sullinger can save the Cavs.” I don’t think I’m the only person who finds the word “save” troublesome when it’s used in reference to a college freshman, and, regardless of the language one chooses to employ, there’s a decent chance Ohio State’s phenom lacks the transcendent talents upon which one can build a championship team. That’s not a slight at Sullinger: there are about six people on the planet that hold that distinction. Is anyone else concerned, due in part to the near-imminent lockout as well as an ostensible dearth of dominant college players, that there may not be any franchise players in this draft? I am terrified of a Cavs squad that features an overmatched Perry Jones or just-pretty-good Jared Sullinger as its centerpiece going forward.

Over at the Good News Desk, we’ve received word that Cavs announcer Joe Tait has moved home to continue his rehab from heart surgery.

On The Twitters

“It’s been five minutes. I’m still at a loss for exactly how to describe those last seven seconds.” [Zac Jackson]

“The trade deadline is 16 days away and if Jamison is gone I’ll throw a party and get drunk. If he’s still on the team I’ll still get drunk.” [realcavsfans]

“ESPN is trying really, really hard to make people think the only difference in this years #Cavs team is LeBron James.” [Scott Sargent

"Do writers really believe their "Cavaliers are really bad" article is breaking any new ground?" [Michael A. Young]

Recap: Mavericks 99, Cavs 96 (Or, Welcome to history)

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Overview: The Mavericks beat the Cavaliers by a final score of 99-96. The Cavaliers are now the sole owners of the longest losing streak in NBA history. Jason Terry led the Mavericks with 23 points off the bench, and made the game-clinching jumper with 35 seconds remaining.

It’s the longest losing streak ever, Charlie Brown bullets:

- Remember how I said that good offensive teams can have more trouble against the Cavs’ defense than mediocre or poor offensive teams? The beginning of this game was a good example of why. The Mavericks settled for open jumpers early in the shot clock, only to watch Peja and Dirk miss some open jumpers and some easy shots at the basket.

When the Cavs took an early 8-1 lead, Dirk Nowitzki got the ball in the mid-post, and you could hear his internal monologue: “Wenn ich in Richtung zum Ziel gegen diesen Mann gehe, in der Lage ist er nicht, mich zu stoppen. Er ist an der Verteidigung schrecklich.”

Blame Babel Fish if that’s a horrible translation, but the Mavericks basically realized that Antawn Jamison is a horrible defender who had no chance of stopping Dirk from getting to the basket and would immediately become invisible if the Mavericks put him in the pick-and-roll.

The Mavericks started exposing Jamison with Nowitzki dribble-drives and pick-and-rolls that should have forced Jamison to show above the screen or go under it to force a jumper. Jamison does neither of those things. He runs into the screen, waves his arm in the direction of the ball-handler, then jogs back towards his man as the ball-handler easily turns the corner. Every time Jamison got screened, the Cavs were playing four-on-five, and Hickson’s weak-side rotations (which do not exist) weren’t going to cover for Jamison’s poor defensive effort. The Mavs started scoring inside, got the lead by the end of the first, and never trailed again.

Offensively, the team continues to look competent. Sessions has been looking great on that end of the floor; he pushes the ball at every opportunity, and that’s when the Cavs are at their best. In the half-court, those dribble-handoff sets are starting to produce results, and Hickson is starting to look like he did at the beginning of the season again. Every now and again, the Cavs look like they know what they’re doing on offense, and that’s the highest compliment I can give to Sessions and Hickson.

Eyenga had some nice moments tonight — when he gets near the basket, he just has an extra tenth of a second or two up there and can do whatever he wants. He’s exciting to watch, although he’s still missing too many long jumpers and not drawing enough fouls.

Jamison put on a flip shot exhibition early, and it was pretty. He promptly gave all those points back by forcing jumpers and flip shots, and finished 8-23 from the field while shooting all of one free throw. Parker had a bad shooting night, Gibson and Manny were n0-shows, and Ryan Hollins managed to commit five fouls and nearly decapitate a guy in 16 minutes of play. It’s very tough to beat the Mavericks on their floor when Hickson and Sessions are the only guys who have it going.

Still, there’s something here — keep Sessions, keep Hickson, keep Eyenga, get Varejao back, look for a perimeter stopper and a guy who can guard the rim, get that top-5 pick to boost the offense, make training camp about DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE, and…sigh. There’s simply too much to do. 25 straight losses.

The end of the game went like this: the Mavs played tight, the Cavs got themselves back in the game thanks to Ramon pushing the ball and Jamison making a big three and a big steal, and Jamison and Hickson made horrible decisions early in the clock that kept the Cavs from getting a good chance to tie the game or cut the lead to one. Parker had a chance at a pull-up three to tie it, the Cavs got the rebound, Moon decided his chances of passing to another shooter were better than his chances of draining a contested three, and time ran out. Game over. History made. Until next time. Every game is a chance to make history now, right?

Links To The Present: February 7, 2011

Monday, February 7th, 2011

“I thought coming into this season that winning as many games as possible in hopes for an 8th seed in the playoffs would serve as a building block of sorts to help this franchise move forward. In hindsight that would have only delayed the inevitable, which is this painfully numbing season we’re experiencing right now. It had to happen sometime, and no time like the present I suppose.” [Brendan Bowers]

“Despite reports by ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Cleveland Cavaliers were not considering the trade of center Anderson Varejao for Byron (BJ) Mullens and/or Cole Aldrich from the Oklahoma City Thunder, a source close to the team tells WFNY.” [Scott Sargent]

Things like this are sort of silly, but, um, the Cavs’ losing streak has lasted 16 days longer than William Henry Harrison’s Presidential term.

And Larry Pantages remembers the last time the Cavs were this unequivocally horrible.

On The Twitters

“Detroit/Eminem/Chrysler TV ad had 2 fire U up whether U are from Detroit, Cleveland or any other midwest urban town that’s on comeback road.” [Dan Gilbert]

“Cavs look to avoid outright history in Dallas tonight (“Twenty-five? In a row?!”). Hope Aguilera hung around to improv another new anthem.” [Eric Knappenberger]

Recap: Blazers 111, Cavs 105 (Or, defense wins championships, and prevents 24-game losing streaks)

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Overview: The Portland Trail Blazers made 12 of their 19 three-point attempts in a 111-105 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers now have the longest single-season losing streak of all time, and tied their own record for the most consecutive losses ever.

PLAY DEFENSE, ANTAWN Bullets:

Same old story. The Cavs had a good first half. They pushed the ball effectively, Jamario, AP, Sessions, and Boobie all made some nice shots, and Portland didn’t have much going offensively outside of Aldridge scoring in the post and Wesley Matthews getting open off of screens.

In the second half, Portland’s offense opened up. Antawn Jamison was matched up with Nicholas Batum, and Batum absolutely destroyed him. Jamison didn’t switch at the right time, didn’t try to fight over down-screens, didn’t stick to Batum when he should have, and generally allowed the Blazers to get wide-open three after wide-open three. I cannot stress this enough: Antawn Jamison is playing the worst defense I have ever seen an NBA player play, and the Cavaliers cannot survive it. He should’ve been benched for Joey Graham in the second half.

Antawn’s offensive chucking does not come close to negating the unbelievable damage he does defensively. The Cavaliers set a futility record tonight because of their defensive breakdowns, and nearly every single one of them could be traced back to Antawn Jamison. I know he’s a nice guy, but he has been getting away with murder.

Late in the game, the Blazers were able to move the ball, get inside, and make some tough shots, while the Cavs tried to shoot over their zone. Parker, Harris, and Gibson made some nice shots to keep the game competitive, but the Blazers deserved to win this game. The incredible thing about this losing streak isn’t that the Cavs haven’t won in a month and a half — it’s that they’ve had maybe one cheap loss during that time.

Other notes:

Ramon Sessions continues to look much better than Mo Williams as the team’s starting point guard. He’s pushing the ball, making good passes, getting to the rim, and even making his mid-range jumpers. It would have been nice of him to make that wide-open layup that would have cut the Blazer lead to two, though.

Eyenga’s gotta spend this summer shooting, shooting, shooting. He’s got some natural range and can hit from mid-range, but he needs to make some changes in his stroke before he can actually be a threat from outside.

Great game from Jamario, who was very active on both ends of the floor and actually made some threes.

Manny Harris’ outside shot has looked better every game. I was very skeptical of him, but I think he’s a keeper.

Boy, Wesley Matthews can score. A perfect example of a shooter who really knows how to set up the rest of his game with his shot.

That’s all I have for tonight. I rarely get mad when watching this team, but Antawn’s defense makes me see red. If the Cavs don’t beat the Mavericks on the road in their next game, they own the consecutive losses record outright. I’m sure that game will go well. Until later.