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Final Score: Cavs lose to Hornets 126-94, fall to 1-8 on the season

In the loss, the Cavs hit a new low.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

For a moment on Saturday night in Charlotte, it looked like the Cavaliers might be making some progress. In the third quarter, Cleveland trailed Charlotte by as few as five points and looked on its way to keeping it close against a solid Eastern Conference team.

And then the Cavs collapsed and ended up trailing by as many as 32 points — the biggest deficit of the season — en route to a 126-94 loss.

J.R. Smith led the Cavs with 14 points, 12 of which came on three-pointers, off the bench. Jordan Clarkson added 13 points and Sam Dekker added 11 points. Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb was the game’s high scorer with 19 points.

In the third quarter, Charlotte buried Cleveland with basket after basket after basket. With the Cavs own by only 10, Kemba Walker hit a three-pointer to put the Hornets up 13. And then the lead went up to 15. And then 17. And then all the way up to 32 in the fourth quarter. What could have been a good test for the Cavs, even if it ended in a loss, ended up being a Hornets highlight reel and another bleak loss for the Cavs.

As promised, interim coach team voice Larry Drew did make changes to the rotation — Smith returned, as did Kyle Korver, and both played well — but it didn’t matter. And that might be the biggest lesson coming out of this game. The Cavs, at 1-8 and owners of the NBA’s worst record, are going to keep struggling. Losses like this are the new normal.

Cleveland returns to the court on Monday in Orlando against the Magic to end its two-game road trip. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.