I tried writing the beginning of this recap a hundred times before I had any idea what to write. I still don’t, really. The Cavs keeping piling up losses, but it’s not the W-L column that hurts. It’s the individual defeats. I know that every team in the NBA loses, and the close ones are supposed to hurt. But man, was this one tough.
First Quarter: Brook Lopez, master purveyor of the flat-footed hook shot, dominated Tyler Zeller, he of the weak chest and propensity to be pushed around. Dominated to the tune of 19 points. Kyrie was out of sync early, and this one looked real ugly until C.J. Miles started raining threes. BKN 34, CLE 24
Second Quarter: Kyrie Irving remained mediocre. C.J. Miles, thankfully, remained supernova. His jumper has looked decidedly silky as of late, hasn’t it? The defensive effort by the Cavs in these 12 minutes was nothing short of horrendous. Jerry Stackhouse was hitting open jumpers, Marshon Brooks was getting gifted all sorts of open looks–hell, even Andray Blatche hit a three. BKN 61, CLE 53.
Third Quarter: Ew. The third quarter basically consisted of the Cavs and the Nets both missing a ton of shots, until the Cavs missed a few less shots near the end and somehow ended the period only down by five. But hey! Kyrie Irving hit two free throws, just in case, you know, you forgot he did anything other than miss contested jumpers over Deron Williams. Also, Gerald Wallace is a lot of fun to watch play basketball. He just kind of runs around and bangs into everyone, all the time. Also, Luke Walton is Bizzaro Gerald Wallace in every sense. The two of them exist to be polar opposites Neither can live while the other survives. BKN 79, CLE 74.
Fourth Quarter: Tristan Thompson and C.J. Miles were heroic, picking up the slack we sorely needed while Kyrie uncharacteristically continued to suck. They combined for 19 in the fourth, and seemed like the only Cavs interested in winning the game. Tristan, especially, showed fantastic effort on both sides of the floor, all the while rebounding like a maniac. His tip-dunk with a minute left cut the lead to three was unbelievable, and would have been Andy-esque, if Andy could jump that high. At the very end, Kyrie hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. Joe Johnson hit a pair, and Kyrie’s last heave rimmed out. BKN 103, CLE 100. Ballgame.
Player of the Game: Tristan Thompson had 17 and 15, with a pair of blocks and only one missed free throw. He was fantastic, and the big games have been coming often enough recently to convince me that he’s a really valuable piece for the future. He’s not nearly as good as J.J. Hickson, though…JOKE.
Highlights: Alonzo Gee continuing to get one breakaway steal-to-dunk a game, Tristan Thompson being a total beast, C.J. Miles unleashing high-volume efficiency on the Nets, Tyler Zeller on offense, did I mention Tristan Thompson?
Lowlights: Tyler Zeller on defense, Kyrie Irving on defense, Kyrie Irving on offense, Reggie Evans suddenly becoming an effective offensive weapon, Byron Scott’s rotations.
General Notes: In case you hadn’t noticed, Byron Scott lives to confound Cavs fans with his unfathomable, ridiculous Kyrie Irving Playing Time methodology. As much as Kyrie sucked this game, there was no reason for Scott to hold him out for the first five minutes of the fourth. Our offense is stagnant without Kyrie in there, and the non-Kyrie effect is larger by several orders of magnitude in the final frame, when defense buckles down. Now, should our 20 year-old star be playing 40 minutes a game? No, but there are ways to stagger minutes, and I’d much rather have Kyrie miss a few minutes earlier in the game, if it meant he could play more of the fourth. We would have been down by a lot more when he came in if it weren’t for a few unlikely Jeremy Pargo plays. C’mon, Byron.
Also: Luke Walton was one of only three players to post a positive +/- for the night, but he didn’t pass the eye test. Everyone raves about his passing, but Walton tries a little too hard to thread the needle, and often passes up good looks to further his Steve Nash-without-foot speed impersonation. 30 minutes? C’mon, Byron.