The above video is a compilation of the cheerleader routines from the 1986 film Wildcats, starring Goldie Hawn as a coach of an inner-city high school football team. The movie itself was not pretty, being widely panned by critics and audiences alike. Yet, it was still probably more watchable than last night’s game.
Despite my initial best intentions, I was not able to catch this contest between the Cavs and Grizzlies live. Maybe the universe conspired against me seeing it… knowing it might potentially cause my eyes to bleed. I did try to power through it on my DVR, but after the 12th missed shot in a row and umpteenth turnover in the first quarter… there was a lot of fast forwarding involved.
It’s not impossible for a good team to dig themselves out of a nine point opening quarter… yet, it’s improbable for a not so good team to do so. On the bright side… the Cavs almost did the improbable by the end, trimming a 17 point lead down to just four. Though, that was primarily because the Grizzlies also played into the ugliness.
The first quarter tells the majority of the story…. which was a continuation of the cold shooting from the second half of Sunday’s game against the Bulls. Only, this wasn’t just cold… this was frigid. Zero for their first 12 attempts. Plus, the ball was more stuck than Flick’s tongue to that frozen pole in A Christmas Story. When the ball wasn’t sticking or clanking off the unkind iron, the Cavs were throwing or dribbling it away, turning it over seven times in the quarter… leading to eight points for Memphis.
Channing Frye finally hit a triple with just under four and a half minutes to go to give the Cavs their first made basket, but they weren’t able to break the double digit barrier in the first 12 minutes. Yep, just 3-21 (14%) for nine points… setting the low water mark for a quarter this season. Even though the second quarter produced an uptick in shooting efficiency (10-21), the first half percentage was still a chilly 28.6%. The turnovers also continued to plague the Cavs (they finished with 16 for the game that translated to 24 points for the Grizz).
After scoring just 33 points in the second half on Sunday, the Cavs had just 32 points in the first half against Memphis. I’m no math wizard, but by my calculations, 65 points in four quarters won’t win you many games. Fortunately for the wine &
cold gold, the Grizzlies could only muster 45 points of their own, leaving the door of opportunity cracked just enough.
Neither team could get much traction in the third, with each struggling to muster 20 points in the quarter (21-20, Cavs). Cleveland did start to hit some threes, but every time they cut the lead to single digits, Memphis pushed it back out again behind Marc Gasol and Jaren Jackson, Jr. By the end of three, the score resembled a high school game with the Grizzlies in front 65-53. It was a fair question if either team would reach 80 at that point.
The fourth is when things got crazy (scoring wise anyway), and both teams started really pouring in the points. Jordan Clarkson caught fire for 15 of his game high 24, and Collin Sexton scored half of his 16, while dishing out half of his six dimes. Two of those assists went to Cedi Osman in transitional run outs, with the second one closing the gap to just four with 1:18 remaining.
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) December 27, 2018
Sadly, Mike Conley took advantage of the rookie with a layup and a bad turnover by Sexton, which led to a trip to the line. The lead was back to eight, and the Cavs never got closer. Still, they did outscore the Grizz 34-30 in the final frame to at least make things interesting.
Regardless of how bad things looked, the Cavs deserve some credit for not just rolling over to die… especially when they easily could have. They showed some resiliency in clawing their way back into the game at the end, and giving themselves a shot at redemption for the nine point opening clankfest.
From the little I saw, Ante Zizic actually looked semi-playable (I guess that’s a step up?)… especially against a bigger front line. Big ZZ didn’t shoot all that well, but he did have 11 rebounds to go with his six points… and was the only Cav in the positive on +/- for the night.
Speaking of rebounds… the Cavs dominated the glass 53-34. Of course, there’s a lot more boards to be had when shots aren’t falling.
Say what you want about Jordan Clarkson’s defensive shortcomings, but he’s about the only Cav who can consistently put the ball in the hoop. JC was a huge part of the comeback with his 15 point fourth quarter, and was 4-7 from three point land. He also had a nice all around stat line with five boards, two assists and three steals.
Collin Sexton essentially played Mike Conley to a draw statistically. Young Bull had 16 points (6-15 shooting) to go with six assists, five boards and a steal, while Conley had 15 points (6-16 shooting) to go with eight assists, two boards and two steals. However, the rookie made a huge mistake down the stretch, and the vet made him pay.
Despite being mostly not great on the night… Matthew Dellavedova had a couple of highlight reel assists in the second quarter, including this no-look beauty…
Delly to @JalenJones_21 for the two-hand flush!
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) December 27, 2018
And this nifty bounce pass…
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 27, 2018
Just about everything else. The shooting (especially in the first half) was fairly horrific, and the turnovers were even worse. Aside from the rebounding advantage, the front line seemed overmatched… particularly with Larry Nance, Jr. in foul trouble. Cedi’s two transition buckets in the fourth saved him from another rough shooting night, and he did snag seven boards.
I can’t stress the turnovers enough… especially that last one by Sexton. Yikes.
The Grindhouse is an often brutal place to play, and the style the Grizzlies employ isn’t typically easy on the eyes. This game was no exception.
Actually, I guess this depends on your POV (if you are #TankStrongForZion or #BeTheFight), but the Cavaliers are now have the worst record in the NBA at 8-27, with the Phoenix Suns pulling out an OT victory over the Magic. The basement of the league is likely to be a familiar locale for the Cavs, at least until some of their injured return in the new year.
I’m all for collecting ping-pong balls in anticipation of one of the Duke trio winding up in Cleveland next year, but with the new lottery system, the Cavs don’t have to be dead last to win it.
In the meantime, maybe I’ll invest in a blindfold for games like this in the future…