Wheels come off for Cavs in loss to Bulls
CLEVELAND -- For the first time this season, the Cavaliers should be ashamed of themselves.
That's about all you can say after Friday's 114-75 stinker against the visiting Chicago Bulls.
The Cavs were up against the team with the best record in the East, and played frightened and listless. They received very little direction from their veterans, with Antawn Jamison and Ramon Sessions both turning in their worst performances of the season on the same night.
They refused to get physical, they refused to protect the rim and they didn't seem real big on the idea of moving the ball on offense, either.
Or as coach Byron Scott put it, the Cavs really didn't do much of anything "besides the whining."
Yeah, that would about sum it up.
Really, about the only positives the home team can take out of this one was again the play of rookie point guard Kyrie Irving. He started off on fire, making his first four shots, including three 3-pointers.
But no one else wanted to get in on the act, and Irving got to rest the entire fourth quarter, finishing with 13 points and three assists.
Also, Cavs forward Anderson Varejao displayed his usual bundle of hustle for a team-high 14 points -- but the Wild Thing was mostly manhandled in the low post by the likes of Chicago's Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
Boozer is still booed heartily in Cleveland, and like other villains who have returned to this city, it seems to provide him with a rare moment of genuine inspiration.
Actually, to be fair, Boozer is having a great season so far (he often does until the playoffs roll around) -- and Friday was likely his best game yet.
He had a lot to do with that, but so did the Cavs' willingness to give him whatever he wanted. It was almost as if they pledged, "Hey, Carlos. We won't guard you if you promise not to guard us."
If so, Boozer certainly kept his end of the bargain -- but Jamison still couldn't muster anything but a bunch of shots that made the rim cringe with fear on his way to a 1-for-10 disaster. As is always the case with Jamison, the fans and media jumped on him immediately and mercilessly -- and while it's never fair, he does need to do better if this team is serious about making the playoffs.
The lesson here, of course, is everyone has an off night. Guys such as Cavs reserves Daniel Gibson and rookie Tristan Thompson didn't play awful, they just each shot 2-for-10 from the floor. That's OK, provided it's a once-in-a-while thing.
What stinks is how the wheels came off and too many of the players wore confused looks on how to maybe fix things.
It was as if the Cavs ordered a pizza and the delivery guy showed up with a bag of rocks -- and the Cavs just sort of shrugged and accepted it.
Of course, we haven't even yet mentioned how the Bulls played without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose, who sat out with a toe injury. Or how this was the Cavs' worst ever loss at home. Not at Quicken Loans Arena, mind you. Worst loss ever on any home court.
Or how the Bulls have won seven straight in this series.
But you've certainly heard and read all that by now, and you probably could go the rest of your life without ever caring about it again. Like the Cavs, you just want any memories of Friday to go away.
Well, good news. They will go away, and very soon, as the Cavs get a chance to rectify things Saturday, with a game in Atlanta.
They don't necessarily need to win, but they do need to play a lot better and act interested in competing. Otherwise, they'll risk losing their fan base and gaining the season-long ire of their coach.
So yes, forgetting this one is entirely possible, and entirely up to them.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO