Overview: The Cleveland Cavaliers’ season-long parade of miserable failure continued on Wednesday when the Charlotte Bobcats outscored the Cavs 33-20 in the first quarter of a 101-92 victory. D.J. Augustin and Stephen Jackson to score 66 points on 21-38 shooting from the floor.
This is all very, very bad bullets:
When a team has lost 15 of its last 16 games, getting blown out in the majority of them, it doesn’t lose games just one way. It loses games in a wide variety of equally spectacular ways. Normally, the Cavs lose games by failing to get into the paint, playing lazy team defense and missing rotations, and failing to stop penetration, but they’re also horrible at other aspects of basketball. Let’s take a look at what went wrong on Wednesday:
1. Coming out flat
With Mo Williams out of the starting lineup and Manny Harris taking his place, the Cavs came out with absolutely no energy. They forced up a few jumpers when they had the ball, and did absolutely nothing to stop the Bobcats from doing anything they wanted to do offensively. When the Bobcats did mess up, they outhustled the Cavs and beat them to the rebound or loose ball. By the time the Cavs woke up and realized what was going on, the Bobcats were up 27-10. The Cavs never recovered.
2. Allowing penetration
Stephen Jackson is not the fastest player in the NBA, so he really shouldn’t have been able to get into the paint at will. Some of his (and Augustin’s) points came on step-back jumpers, but a lot of the Bobcats’ offense came because Jackson was able to walk right into the teeth of the Cavs defense and either lay the ball in or find an open teammate. Cleveland somehow managed to do a worse job on D.J. Augustin. They let him get to the basket as will, they didn’t follow him out to the three-point line, and they lost him when he cut off the ball for layups. That’s a trifecta of horrible defense right there. Also, they turned the ball over too much and played bad transition defense. Other than that, great defensive effort. 87 of Charlotte’s 101 points came from the paint, the free-throw line, or the three-point line
3. No offense
Well, the perimeter weave is gone. On Wednesday night, the only thing that worked for the Cavs was Ramon Sessions putting his head down and flying straight to the rim. That’s his game, and it can be hard to stop, especially when teams get big early leads and don’t feel like working hard on defense. It’s probably time to give him more minutes alongside Boobie or Mo — after all, what is there to lose?
Parker, Boobie, Jamison, and Manny Harris combined to go 3-20 from behind the arc. That is not good. Parker was missing open threes and out of rhythm, Manny Harris looked over-caffeinated and under-informed, Andy couldn’t find space to cut through, and Boobie had a game to forget. J.J. Hickson literally forced a mid-range jump shot and committed an obvious charge in one five-second sequence. Alonzo Gee has energy, but wasn’t really helping the offense much.
That’s pretty much it. Ramon willed the Cavs back into the game in the fourth with some help from Jamison, but Stephen Jackson hit a clutch step-back three to seal it.
And that’s it. The Cavs won one game in December, and they needed overtime to get it. Better luck next year, I guess.