Scott says Cavs played 'scared' in loss to Heat
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have had nights like this at home before, and they've had them this season.
They've been drubbed by Eastern Conference contenders Philadelphia and Chicago, and lost to likely non-playoff teams such as New Jersey, Golden State and Milwaukee.
But their 111-87 defeat to the Miami Heat probably hurts more because LeBron James plays for the other team.
Plus, it wasn't ever really close, as the Heat raced to a 21-2 lead … and that was pretty much that.
The Cavs were out of sorts on offense, out of position on defense and showed little fire in general. That is likely why their coach, Byron Scott, used words like "scared" to describe their early performance.
"We weren't ready," Scott said.
He also said he told the team at halftime, "It boggles my mind that you're frightened by another man."
Let's just say he wasn't referring to Heat rookie Norris Cole, the speedy guard out of Cleveland State.
The players denied James was the reason for their issues, and he may not have been. But it's hard to believe all the hubbub surrounding his return didn't play a role — especially when you consider the Cavs played considerably better in their two games in Miami.
Regardless, unless the Cavs somehow sneak their way into the playoffs, they are done with LeBron and the Heat for the season. That's the good news, because everybody in these parts seems to enjoy watching the Cavs play basketball — instead of having to deal with the bright lights that went out when James left town.
Basically, Cavs fans don't really want to see James this up close and personal anymore. They finally seem to not even be interested enough to offer him hate. But when LeBron is in Cleveland, with the national media on his trail, there's no way to hide.
As for the actual game, there wasn't a whole lot to take from this one. Kyrie Irving looked as much like a 19-year-old rookie as any time this season, scoring 17 points and passing for just two assists.
That's not a knock on Irving, because he was still good. Just not Kyrie good.
It didn't help that no one else really showed up, with the likes of Alonzo Gee (9 points, 4-for-14 shooting) and Antawn Jamison (13 points, three turnovers) not having their best of nights.
But again, welcome to life in the NBA when your best player is learning on the fly.
Still, just like the aforementioned losses to the Bulls and 76ers, the Cavs just need to breathe a sigh of relief and move on. The LeBron circus has already left the city.
Next up is the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, turning the Cavs' over-hyped Friday into a weekend of NBA secrecy in a 48-hour span.
All of that, of course, is a good thing.
The Cavs can focus on themselves, the fans can focus on their team, and life in Cleveland sports can return to normal.
"It's on to the next one," Irving said. "That's the attitude everyone has."
That right there shows you part of Irving's value, his leadership skills, his ability to put losses behind him and find new reasons for hope.
Right now, the Cavs have that, and it's something they need much more than LeBron James.
So, yes, there will be nights like these again. There will be home losses and road wins, more reasons for fans to both clap their hands and shake their heads.
But all of that is OK. This is Cleveland's team, and the Cavs will be able to make that their focus for the rest of the season.