Here we are again. The pit of frustration. The Cavaliers led by as much as 12 in the third quarter and played hard for the entire evening to that point. Then it happened. Again. The Cavs took their foot off the pedal, wasted easy opportunities, and the Bobcats came roaring back. Having already lost to the Bobcats this season, in a game in which they were outhustled and outmuscled wire to wire, I cannot understand how it happened, but it did. The Cavaliers drop to 3-7, (3-1 Home), while the Bobcats are 5-4 (3-2 Away).
- Earl Clark. He came to play tonight and looked pretty good throughout. He finished 6-7 from the field, 3-3 from 3, and had 5 rebounds and a block. He didn't over dribble and did well finding open spaces on the floor.
- Tyler Zeller. Tyler provided a huge spurt of offense and defense to help the Cavs build a halftime lead, and looked like a pretty heady NBA player in the process.
- Anthony Bennett. Bennett played only 8 minutes and was a +2. His first touch, he put a nice couple of fakes on Cody Zeller and made the bucket. He had a great pass to Tyler to end the half, which is important not just because he flashed the vision and ability to make a great play, but he didn't shoot the ball as soon as he touched it. Fundamentally his defense was poor, but he did well just by taking up space. I don't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing but this was his best game so far.
- Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. I'm not going to say that this duo doesn't work, but it's on my radar. Neither is a consistent offensive player, and they have a lot of overlap in their abilities. Varejao looks to have lost a few steps. Tonight Thompson had a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but was 6-15 from the floor. In crunch time Josh McRoberts was repeatedly open for hurtful buckets.
- CJ Miles. 4-13 from the floor. 0-4 from 3. 1 assist. CJ did little to help space the floor for Kyrie, despite Earl Clark earning plenty of defensive attention. He held Gerald Henderson to the same 4-13, 8 point statline, but as a player counted on for his offensive punch, he did not deliver.
- Sergey Karasev. Scoreless with 1 turnover in 9 minutes, and responsible for Mike Brown using a time out just to scream at him for giving up on defending a fast break, Sergey struggled mightily.
- Kyrie Irving. Kyrie started hot, and then yet again, his jumper deserted him. He did well to find open teammates, but he still struggles to score, and is forcing the ball into horrible situations, leading to awful turnovers. His defensive effort was strong, but when the team needed a comeback in the fourth, he took to 1 on 5 hero ball.
The Moral of the Story:
I'm truly at a loss. The team obviously missed Dion Waiters and Andrew Bynum, but when you're leading by 12 at home in the 3rd quarter, you don't get to make those excuses anymore. I don't like watching Anderson Varejao play basketball right now. I thought small forward spacing and scoring would fix a lot of things, but when Earl Clark is doing exactly that, the team still has a putrid offense.
Too many times last year we would see a young team that took plays, quarters, or games off, and in the 3rd and 4th quarters tonight, there they were again. I don't think it's Mike Brown, because we have seen this before. These guys need to learn how to win, which is what Jarrett Jack was brought in to do. Maybe it takes a game when they have a lead and twist the knife, maybe it takes 5, but for the second time this season the Cavaliers are in need of a Come to Jesus moment, and I sure hope they respond.