Cavs drop 23rd straight, tie single-season record
By Sam Amico
February 4, 2011
Twenty-three. It hurts just to say for the Cavaliers and their fans.
Twenty-three. That's how many the Cavs have lost in a row following Friday's 112-105 defeat in Memphis.
Twenty-three. It ties an all-time NBA record, held by the 1995-96 Grizzlies and 1997-98 Denver Nuggets.
Twenty-three. It's hard to even think about. And the last time that number mattered in Cleveland, Michael Jordan was still playing for Chicago.
Sadly, it didn't have to be this way for the Cavs.
They led at halftime for the first time since Jan. 24. They ran the offense, chased down loose balls and attacked the glass. They were in control for at least two quarters, maybe a little more.
They even received the performance of a lifetime from J.J. Hickson, who appeared as determined as any point during his young career -- finishing with an inspiring 31 points and 15 rebounds. Point guard Ramon Sessions (20 points, 11 assists) was nearly as good.
But there are no moral victories, nobody who's feeling sorry for you, no easy answers in the sometimes unkind world of pro basketball.
And the Cavs are feeling the effects of No. 23.
"Everybody (in the locker room) was really quiet, with their heads down," Hickson said. "But we're not going out there and trying to lose."
Sometime soon, perhaps, that will pay off.
"They say you can't win them all," Hickson added. "You can't lose them all, either."
It just seems that way at the moment. Much if it has to do with mistakes at the worst possible moments, potential game-changing shots clanging off the back of the rim, defensive lapses when all you need is one last stand.
"Those are little spurts you can't afford to give up," said Cavs coach Byron Scott.
For one of the few times this season, the typically jovial Scott spoke in a monotone while facing the ground. His eyes were red, his face was long. It was as if he had spent the previous 48 minutes of his life tumbling in a clothes dryer.
"I try to tell the guys win each quarter and you win the game," he said, almost to no one in particular. "But we have to treat that orange-and-round thing more precious."
Scott speaks the truth, as the Cavs committed 16 turnovers, many leading to easy baskets for the opposition.
Of course, it's not like Scott hasn't been here before. He was a member of the Grizzlies team that set the consecutive-loss record '95-96, his final season as a player. That came after winning three championship rings next to Magic Johnson with the Lakers.
As a coach, Scott led the Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances in the early part of this decade. So as he has said repeatedly, he is well-equipped to deal with whatever comes his way. That includes the No. 23.
"I've been to the bottom, I've been to the top," Scott said. "I can deal with both."
The Cavs (8-42) will get another opportunity Saturday night, when the Portland Trail Blazers come to town. If nothing else, they will spend much of February at home -- after having played a league-high 29 games on the road.
So they will only have to live with the No. 23 a little bit longer. And they are hopeful that is where the streak will end. Because at this point, the only thing worse would be 24.
"We're gonna snap it sooner or later," Scott said.
And with that, he was able to let out a smile for one of the few times all night.