Answers seeming less clear with each Cavs loss

The Cavaliers allowed the Mavs to shoot 55 percent from the field, including 7-of-8 from center Samuel Dalembert (pictured above).

Jerome Miron/Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Well, at least the Cavaliers can hang their hat on playing pretty well and looking like a real team on their first West Coast trip.

Since then, it’s been fairly laughable. Only fans aren’t laughing after the Cavs’ fifth straight loss, this one a 124-107 cruise job by the host Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

And make it seven of eight on the dark side for the Cavs, who continue to move further away from the playoffs and closer to good ol’ Square One.

Anymore, there’s no winning with this team, just degrees of losing. The longer we go, the softer the Cavs (16-32 overall, 5-20 on the road) appear.

They can’t keep opponents out of the open floor. They don’t fight through screens. They seem clueless against the pick-and-roll.

Oh, and they rarely put a body on someone when going up for a rebound. Instead, they watch the ball come off the rim and hope it magically plops into their arms.

They allowed the Mavs to shoot 55 percent from the field, including 7-of-8 from center Samuel Dalembert. A lot of people probably didn’t even know Dalembert was still in the league — but the Cavs’ identity this season seems to be making opposing non-factors quite relevant.

That’s not to say the Cavs forget about the other team’s best players. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with a breezy 23 points, and Monta Ellis tallied 22. Those two were a combined 5-of-8 on 3-pointers.

Coach Mike Brown was hired because he’s "a grinder," because of his work ethic and ability to get his teams to defend and control the game.”

You certainly cannot question Brown’s work ethic. Not this season, not ever. But the results have not been promising.

Offensively, the Cavs are a mess. Even in games where they top 100, it’s not necessarily because things are clicking. It’s more or less because the perimeter shots are going in. Honestly, that’s about the only place the Cavs get decent looks these days — far from the basket.

Now, to be a little more fair, they did shoot 46 percent from the floor, and overall, their spacing was better on this Texas two-stop, which also included Houston. But here’s a cold, hard truth for you: Better isn’t gonna cut it if you want to see the postseason.

Statistically speaking, Kyire Irving scored a game-high 27 points and passed for eight assists. He kept the ball moving. He’s come under a lot of heat lately, but he remains the best thing about this team, his defensive issues be darned.

Luol Deng added 18 points, Tristan Thompson scored 17 and Anderson Varejao returned after a two-game absence with 10.

Perhaps most promising was the play of rookie Anthony Bennett. He was far from fantastic, but at least he didn’t wear the confused look of someone who was waiting in the rain for hours, only to learn he was at the wrong bus stop.

Instead, Bennett shifted between calm and aggressive in scoring 11 points off the bench. The kid even smiled once. He only grabbed one rebound, though, and rebounding is part of the reason the Cavs selected him with the No. 1 overall pick.

So here we are, the Cavs making lineup changes, even playing better, and still losing. They have no answers, and with yet another season slipping away, all we can really do is wait and see what develops because of it.