Oh, you think you do. And you can give it your best. But it’s just not in the cards, and that’s OK.
That’s pretty much the story for the Cavaliers these days, particularly in a game like the one Wednesday at The Q, where the Cavs dropped a 95-85 decision to the Chicago Bulls.
Now, understand that the Cavs battled. In the second half, you could see those looks in their eyes. You could see they believed they could overcome a first half in which the ball moved about as smoothly as a weighted rock.
The Cavs scored 35 points in that half. Thirty-five, in 24 minutes. It’s happened before, but not often like this. This was, in a word, painful.
But despite all this dreary news, the Cavs did what they’ve been doing every night for the past few weeks: They’re making a game of it.
With or without their high-scoring backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters (and it was again without on Wednesday), the Cavs are just trying to gut out something to make the home fans proud.
An actual victory is preferred, but this has to be a close second. The Cavs (4-15) are showing there is something to be said for trying to spit in the face of the odds. Whether or not you fall short, sometimes, is besides the point.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Cavs coach Byron Scott. “They’re playing as hard as they can right now. A lot of things are not going our way.”
Yeah, you can say that again.
Granted, the Cavs were 2-8 with Irving and Waiters together, but they were progressing. They possessed some real reasons for hope.
They still do, but now that’s mostly because of center Anderson Varejao — and Varejao alone.
As is almost always the case, Varejao was somewhat neutralized by the Bulls’ physical frontcourt of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. In the Cavs-Bulls game earlier this season, Varejao finished with a season-low five rebounds.
In this game, he went just 4-for-16 from the field.
But he still did everything he could, particularly in the second half, to keep the Cavs believing they might just pull off a comeback.
And despite having to labor against Noah and Boozer, Varejao still managed 11 points and 15 rebounds for his 10th consecutive double-double — not to mention his 10th straight game with at least 15 boards.
“The guy never takes a possession off,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “He’s relentless. Even though he wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well, he never changed his demeanor or the way he was competing.”
Backup point guard Donald Sloan (or should we say the backup to the backup point guard) actually led the Cavs with 14 points. Tristan Thompson and Daniel Gibson added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, before the game, Irving and Waiters walked out of the locker room side-by-side, Waiters with a slight limp and Irving a slight smile. Both were in uniform. You can just tell they’re ready to play, to help their teammates try to overcome the near-impossible odds.
“We’re not going to cry about the guys that aren’t here, because when they’re healthy, they’ll come back and supply us with the parts we need,” Scott said. “Right now, the guys we have out there are playing as hard as they can. That’s all you can ask.”
Shooting guard Marco Belinelli led the Bulls with 23 points, and Luol Deng erupted for 22 himself. Noah and Boozer combined for 27 rebounds, with Noah grabbing 15 of them.
The Cavs return to action Friday at Minnesota, followed by a home game Saturday vs. Detroit. Waiters is listed as day-to-day, so his return remains uncertain.