Cavs do nothing well vs. rising Kings, suffer accordingly
Kyrie Irving went 3-for-14 shooting and the Cavaliers didn’t really defend.
And that, kids, is how you lose to the Sacramento Kings in a 124-80 basketball massacre. That’s exactly what happened Sunday at Sleep Train Arena, where the Cavs tried to sleepwalk through the game and were bowled over by a basketball train.
It’s not the end of the world, this loss, as the Cavs still have three games remaining on this swing through the Western Conference. Nobody really expected them to win all five — but they have to play better than they did Sunday. Otherwise, they won’t win more than the one nabbed Friday at Utah and will be headed right back down that path of ugliness and despair.
Perhaps most troubling in this loss is the Cavs (13-24) proved they’re becoming primarily a perimeter team offensively. When the shots drop, that’s not so bad. But when Irving and friends are laying bricks … well, you get results like Sunday night.
Basically, the Cavs’ offense is too often one guy dribbling, four guys watching, and a bunch of contested jump shots launching. Not even Luol Deng can save that type of nonsense.
As for the defense, it’s only human nature to struggle in every area when the shots aren’t dropping. That’s not an excuse, that’s human nature. That doesn’t make it acceptable. As Cavs coach Mike Brown has said repeatedly, you can make up for a lack of offense by doing everything else well.
The Cavs did nothing well Sunday.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. They did a fine job of giving Kings such as Rudy Gay (20 points) wide open looks at the basket and allowing Isaiah Thomas (26 points, six assists) to drive for uncontested layups. And if the Cavs were trying to make sure DeMarcus Cousins (16 points, 11 rebounds) makes the All-Star team, they did a bang-up job. The guy hardly touched the ball and dominated.
It was a gutless second half from the Cavs — who actually led 32-30 at the end of the first quarter.
But today’s Kings (13-22) are no pushovers. They’ve won five of eight and improved to 11-3 when scoring at least 105.
They’re young, athletic and well-coached by former Brown assistant Michael Malone.
Unlike the Cavs, when the Kings lose, they normally don’t get run out of the gym. The Cavs, on the other hand, were due for a bit of a collapse. Perhaps they played too well lately.
Wisecracks aside, all the Cavs can do is pretend this game never existed. That may be hard to do, given the extreme pain inflicted upon them — but you can either dwell on it or move on. The Cavs would be wise to select the latter. Surely, they will try.
C.J. Miles finished with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, and Deng scored 12 on 5-of-11. He also grabbed five rebounds.
Irving finished with just seven points and was drastically outplayed by Thomas. Kyrie’s had too many of these type of miserable nights this season, and while he’s fantastic most, it’s fair to ask what’s going on.
He hasn’t really improved since last season and despite the changes, the Cavs haven’t yet, either.