Losing streak continues for Cavs
By Sam Amico
FOX Sports Ohio
February 2nd, 2011
CLEVELAND -- It feels more like a 21-and-3/4-game losing streak if you're a fan of the Cavaliers.
That's because the Cavs played nearly as well as they have all season Wednesday, before eventually succumbing to the Indiana Pacers, 117-112, at Quicken Loans Arena.
At least, it's as well as the Cavs have played with the current lineup -- which probably features too much of too many youngsters, such as Manny Harris, Christian Eyenga and Alonzo Gee. But right now, that is what the Cavs have to work with, and right now, the record books will officially show they have lost 22 straight.
That's not intended to dismiss the strong performance of Eyenga, or the hustle of Gee, or especially, the determination of Harris. Eyenga hit a couple of big shots on his way to 12 points and did an admirable job of defending Pacers star Danny Granger. And Harris has now scored 20, 20 and 19 in his previous three games, respectively.
So there was a lot to like about this game. Perhaps the Cavs have found a couple of prizes when it comes to their rookies, particularly when you consider few people (scouts included) even heard of them a couple of months ago.
But in the end, it was still another loss.
"It hurts, period," said Cavs coach Byron Scott.
And the fact the Cavs were in it until the bitter end, according to Scott, makes it hurt that much more.
"We had to match their intensity from start to finish," Scott said. "We didn't do a very good job."
As it stands, the Cavs are now one loss away from tying the league record of 23 consecutive defeats in a season (shared by the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies and 1997-98 Denver Nuggets). It is expected to happen Friday night in Memphis -- but with another game like this, it might not.
After all, despite trailing 12-0 to the start the game, and by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, the Cavs showed some real resolve. They even led 108-105 with 3:32 to left.
Then Granger made a couple of free throws. Then Pacers swingman Mike Dunleavy added a 3-pointer. Then point guard Darren Collison hit a 3-pointer a little later.
Then with 28 seconds left and the Cavs trailing 113-112, Anthony Parker missed a running 5-footer that would have meant the lead, and probably the momentum. Instead, the Pacers got the rebound and finished the job.
And that truly was the difference in this one. The Pacers resembled a team that's played together for a while, a team that is battling for a playoff spot, a team that may be coming together under interim coach Frank Vogel.
The Cavs, on the other hand, looked like a team that is relying heavily on guys who are just trying to cut it in this league -- not to mention a team that is still very much unsure of itself.
As Vogel said, "We did it with poise and offensive execution. That's an area of growth for us, because it's an area that failed us in the past."
That is where the Cavs are today. They don't have the poise or execution to steal games like this, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon. Not with too many key veterans injured, not with so many young guys having to carry the load.
But the Cavs played hard again, and that's all they can really worry about these days.
"They played their hearts out," Vogel acknowledged. "They are in a tough situation with everything. Byron Scott is one of the best coaches I have ever competed against. I just feel for those guys. They deserve to get back on the winning track."
Ramon Sessions scored 25 to lead the Cavs, and Antawn Jamison added 21. Granger and Collison led the Pacers with 23 and 22 points, respectively.
Another telling stat is how the Cavs were out-rebounded by a whopping 49-32 margin.
Updated February 2, 2011