For a moment, it looked as if the Cleveland Cavaliers would be able to overcome their slow start and fluctuating deficit. Even after Charlotte Bobcats‘ guard Kemba Walker nailed a three with just over a minute to play, there was still hope that maybe Kyrie Irving would come through in the clutch again, as he did in Charlotte back in January.
But, when the Cavaliers inbounded the ball with 12 seconds left on the clock, we didn’t see that. Instead we say Jarrett Jack settle for a ugly three point attempt that went directly out of bounds. At that point, despite elongating the game with fouls, there was no comeback left the Cavaliers. In the end, they fell 90-84 to the Charlotte Bobcats.
C.J. Miles lead the Cavaliers with 22 points off the bench, while Tristan Thompson added 16 points and 11 rebounds in another stellar performance. Irving had 16 on 7 of 17 shooting, while Jack had 15 off the bench. Walker lead all scorers with 23.
The first quarter saw the Cavaliers come out sluggish – a big difference from their opening stanza against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. Part of that was because Charlotte shot a scorching 57.1 percent from the field. Three players – Michael Kidd-Gilchirst, Walker and sixth man Ramon Sessions – paced the Bobcats by scoring 23 of their 30 points. On the Cavaliers, it was the Irving show, as he rebounded from his 25 percent shooting night against Brooklyn to got four for six in 10 minutes of action. No other starter was able to hit more then one shot from the field and the Cavaliers only found their second scorer when Jarrett Jack came off the bench.
Andrew Bynum also made an appearance in the first quarter, checking for Anderson Varejao weigh 3:13 left to play. He made two of his three shot and stayed on the floor into the second quarter. As the quarter winded down, Jack was able to hit a three pointer, pulling the Cavaliers within 7. At the end of one, Charlotte lead the Cavaliers 30-23.
The second quarter saw the Cavaliers slowly inch their way back. As the starters started to check back in around the halfway mark, the second unit had pulled the Cavaliers within six. From there, the Cavs were able to close the gap even further. Still, the Bobcats continued to get easy buckets at the lane. Time after time, the Cavaliers defense would collapse only to have the Bobcats get an easy bucket on the backside. The energy that carried the team to a victory against Brooklyn just wasn’t there from the get-go.
As for Bynum, his night was over after 10 minutes of action. He finished two of seven from the floor and also pulled down three rebounds.
As the quarter wore on, the Cavaliers were largely unable to close the gap. They pulled within three for a time, but failed to permanently close the gap. At the end of the half, the Bobcats lead the Cavaliers 54-49. Irving finished the half with 12 points, while Thompson 13 points and 7 rebounds.
In the second half, nothing changed for the Wine & Gold, despite a few high points. Every time they would make a small dent in the Bobcats lead, Charlotte would fight it off and take control again. Even as Thompson (whose effectiveness was limited by foul trouble) and Miles got hot, someone from Charlotte would answer. Three minutes into the third, Charlotte extended their lead to nine, although it would drop to six by the halfway point. By the end of the quarter, it had increased to seven.
In the fourth, things did start looking up for the Wine & Gold. With Irving sitting on the bench for a large part of their run, Miles and Jack hit from the outside. But even them, with the momentum on the urge of switching, Jack committed back-to-back turnovers that resulted in fast break buckets by the Bobcats.
And when Irving came in, he was not nearly as effective on both ends of the floor as he had been earlier in the night against Brooklyn. For the night, he shot 40 percent from the free throw line and only four points in the second half.
All in all, this was a largely disappointing effort by the Cavaliers. The team that stepped out on the floor against the Nets – energetic, aggressive and consistent – was not around. The in-your-face defense from Wednesday was non existent. The effort wasn’t there – the effort levels went up and down and no one seemed to be in the flow.. And aside for Thompson and Miles, it no one brought their A game.
This isn’t end of the world – there are still 80 games to go – but the first two teams featured two different version of the Cavaliers. One was hungry and ready to win and one was not. And whichever one shows up more could dictate how this season ultimately plays out.
- Game Co-MVP’s: Tristan Thompson and C.J. Miles. Thompson has been the Cavaliers best player through two games and has made Bennett an afterthought at times already. Miles carried the Cavaliers tonight, cutting to the lane, finishing at the rim and hitting shots from the outside with regularity. As I said above, I give A grades out to both men.
- Thompson’s state line: 35 minutes, 6-11 shooting, 9-10 from the stripe, 11 rebounds (four offensive), 1 block, 1 steal, four turnovers, 5 five fouls, a plus/minus of +4 and 21 points. Me gusta. There was also a noticeable energy increase for the Cavaliers every time he reentered the game.
- Through two games, Irving is 11 of 33 from the floor and has yet to make a three point shot. Was anyone expecting him to start so slow? And why was he out for such a long stretch in a close, but winnable, game?
- Irving was also bad on offensive tonight, often getting beat off screens, resulting in a big night from Walker. I’m much more worried about this than his offense.
- It’s clear that Bynum is still out of rhythm on offense. From the time being, his (limited) impact is going to come on defense. So, before you look at his box score, take a deep breath and remember that he has a long way to go before he’s ready to contribute every night.
- As of right now, I’d say the Cavaliers pseudo ‘Big Three’ is Irving, Jack and Thompson.
- MKG was very impressive tonight, scoring 15 points on 6-12 shooting. He also had 6 rebounds and a steal. Maybe he’s starting to turn the corner?
- Where was Waiters? He disappeared in the second half and struggled on offense when on the floor. Here’s hoping Mike Brown gives him some leeway.
- Earl Clark was pretty bad tonight. He kept looking to create his own and it resulted in ugly offense.
- Lastly, here’s how the Zeller’s stacked up. Tyler played nine minutes, was 0-2 from the floor, did not score and pulled down two rebounds. Cody played 19 minutes, was 4-9 from the field, scored 9 points and had five rebounds. Advantage goes to the younger Zeller.
The Cavaliers next take the floor tomorrow night against the Indiana Pacers. Tip-off 7 pm in Indianapolis.