Recap: Grizzlies 112, Cavs 105 (Or, of routine incompetence and historic futility)

February 4th, 2011 by John Krolik

Cleveland Cavaliers Players Ryan Hollins (5) And Anthony Parker Help Teammate Ramon Sessions (3) With A Minor Injury

Overview: The Cavaliers tied the single-season record for consecutive losses after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies by a final score of 105-112. J.J. Hickson led all scorers with 31 points and 15 rebounds, and four of Memphis’ starters scored at least 19 points. The Cavaliers have not won a game in regulation since they beat the Grizzlies on November 27th, 2010.

Why yes, this team did just tie a futility record bullets:

Quick announcement before I get to the details: I have joined the staff of the New York Times’ Off The Dribble blog, and wrote my first piece for them today. Go and check it out if you’re in the mood. And no, my new gig shouldn’t have too much of an effect on this blog.

On to the game. I’ve been saying this all year, and I’m going to keep beating the drum: this team does occasionally look like a competent offensive squad. They almost never play competent defense, and that’s why they just tied the NBA record for consecutive losses in a season.

Often times, it seems like mediocre or poor offensive teams have more offensive success against the Cavs than good ones do. Teams with tons of offensive weapons will often settle for the looks they get against actual NBA defenses, but teams like the Grizzlies seem to be more patient, move the ball, and look to attack. When they do that, they inevitably get a great shot, because the Cavaliers cannot play defense.

The Grizzlies moved the ball from side-to-side, kept the defense off-balance with penetration, and got whatever shots they wanted at the rim, on pull-ups, and spot-up mid-range jumpers. After the Cavs made their run, the Grizzlies went into “holy crap, we’re losing to the Cavs” mode and made some panic turnovers in the first half. After a halftime chat that probably went along the lines of “Guys, this is the easiest chance you will ever get to be part of NBA history,” the Grizzlies realized that the Cavs had no chance of stopping them if they fed Zach Randolph down low.

The final numbers: 29 points for Randolph on 12-19 shooting, 54 points in the paint and 27 made free throws for Memphis, 23 losses in a row.

Offensively, the Cavs had some nice moments. Hickson was feeling it from mid-range, and was active inside and on the boards. The team pushed the ball well off of turnovers. Sessions was able to play his game, get to the rim, and set up his teammates, and he even made his mid-range jumpers. Parker was the one who gave the Cavs the lead in the first quarter, and finished with an incredible 18 points on 7 shots from the field — I hope the Cavs trade him, because he deserves better than this. He deserves to be on a team that can use his shooting, length, and decision-making.

The problem was that the Cavs don’t have any go-to sets in the half-court, and that killed them late. Jamison spent most of the game launching quick shots and watching Zach Randolph destroy him, which wasn’t terribly effective. Manny Harris was a total non-factor. The team had its moments offensively, but had no chance of outscoring a team that got whatever shot it wanted all game long.

Last note: if you remember (probably not), the Cavs’ decision to draft Eyenga over Sam Young caused me to nearly swallow my own tongue during a live draft blog. (The pick gets made at 9:23.)

On Friday, Young had a great game. He’s a reliable mid-range shooter, he’s tough, he’s smart, and he can finish inside. That said, it’s becoming more apparent why Cleveland decided to take a massive chance on Eyenga — he will make one or two plays a game where he just glides through the air and dares you to imagine what he might someday become. Manny Harris is a good athlete, but Eyenga is on a whole other level athletically. It’s truly breathtaking. Anyways, just thought I’d mention that. One more chance to avoid the all-time consecutive loss record.