Cavs can’t match Grizzlies’ D, drive

CLEVELAND — Ten things from the Cavaliers’ 103-92 loss to visiting Memphis on Friday night:

1. If
I’m a Cavs fan, I don’t have a major issue with this one. Memphis is a
darn good team — a team that focuses on defense and is the best in the
league in that department. The Grizzlies surrender about 90 points a
game. They’re no slouches on offense, either. With the win, they’re 30-2
when they shoot a better field-goal percentage than their opponent.

2. The
Grizzlies methodically move the ball, take intelligent shots, and don’t
mind if the shot clock expires once in a while. Better that than heave
something bad at the basket. They’re extremely disciplined, very
well-coached and understand their roles. That’s hard for anyone to
overcome — especially a younger, newer team like the Cavs (21-41).

3. On
top of all that, the Grizzlies (41-19) have some really good, and
highly underrated, team members. Center Marc Gasol is among them, and he
absolutely demolished the Cavs to the tune of 22 points on 11-of-16
shooting and eight rebounds. Former Ohio State point guard Mike Conley
(17 points, 11 assists) is another.

4. Basically, there’s a
reason the Grizzlies have won 11 of 12 and improved to 12-3 since the
trade of Rudy Gay to Toronto. They also managed to win without Zach
Randolph, their lone All-Star representative, who was out with a
sprained ankle.

5. Cavs coach Byron Scott described the
Grizzlies’ defense this way: “They’re on a string.” In other words, the
Grizzlies all keep one eye on the ball, one eye on their man, and rarely go for
steals. They’re just five guys playing strong position defense at all
times.

6. Still, the Cavs were in this for much of the
night, trailing 88-84 with just more than 5:30 left. That came
after a third quarter in which they fell behind 80-69. As
Scott said, those third quarters are killing the Cavs. “It’s been that
way the last four games,” Scott said. “We got lucky in the Utah game.”
When asked why this keeps happening, Scott resorted to brutal honesty: “I have no idea.”

7. Just like the Utah game (a 104-101
come-from-behind win), Kyrie Irving did everything he could to take
over. But the Cavs’ star guard just didn’t have enough help this time.
He also didn’t look like he had the normal energy after spending most of
the day with a nasty stomach virus. Still, it’s hard to complain about a
game-high 24 points on 11-of-21 shooting.

8. Irving is well aware of the third-quarter issues. “We’re taking care of the first,
second and fourth quarters,” he said. “If we can avoid third quarters,
avoid holes like that, we could get a lot more wins.”

9.
Prior to tip-off, Scott said the Cavs need to push the tempo. Obviously,
he was right. They finished with one measly fast-break point and lost by 11.
Not many teams run against these Grizzlies.

10. It’s true
former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden was in the stands, and sat in Cavs
owner Dan Gilbert’s seats in the second half. Oden was even sharing a
few laughs with Cavs forward Luke Walton when Walton was nearby on the
bench in the second quarter. Oden got the tickets from Conley, his
former teammate at Ohio State. The Cavs are said to be the frontrunners
to sign Oden this summer, and this clearly only adds to that
speculation.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO