Cavaliers lose sixth straight falling to Jazz 109-100
BY EDDIE DILWORTH
Losing is not something the Cleveland Cavaliers want to get accustomed to, again.
After experiencing a 19-63 campaign a season ago, the Cavs showed signs of movement in the right direction after the team strung some early wins together. But currently in the midst of a losing streak, the Cavs now appear to be treading water.
Monday night In front of 13,190 fans in Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland dropped its sixth-straight contest in a 109-100 loss to the Utah Jazz (18-19).
"I thought the last five to six minutes of the game, we played with what I thought was a sense of urgency, which I talked to them about at halftime, but that's not good enough," Cavs head coach Byron Scott said.
Cleveland (13-23) fell apart in the second quarter. The Cavs trailed 34-33 when Daniel Gibson converted a layup with 8:45 remaining until halftime. When Jazz forward Gordon Hayward immediately made two free throws and a three-pointer, the Cavs were fading and trailed 39-33. After Utah center Al Jefferson made a jump shot followed by an Earl Watson three-pointer, the Cavs were in a full blown haze and trailed 44-33. At halftime, the Cavs trailed 56-41.
"The one thing that we knew we had to do against this team tonight was play just as hard or harder than them," Scott said.
The Cavs, though, were not able to match Utah's level of play. Cleveland made a run in the fourth quarter and when Cavs forward Alonzo Gee dunked with 49.9 seconds to play, Cleveland trailed 105-100. Nevertheless, two more Hayward free throws ended the Cavs spurt and Cleveland never got any closer than the five-point deficit.
Cavs guard Kyrie Irving finished with 22 points, four rebounds and four assists. Irving, however, was 0-6 from the field and recorded just one point in the first half.
"I just started to hit shots," Irving said on scoring 21 of his 22 points in the second half. "The defense started to open up a little bit more. Once I missed the first layup...it was lingering on me a little bit."
Cleveland forward Antawn Jamison finished with 22 points, four rebounds and six assists. Alonzo Gee received his second consecutive start at small forward and finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. Cavs guard Ramon Sessions added 14 points.
The Cavs have certainly struggled without their energetic leader Anderson Varejao. Varejao was injured in an overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 10. Originally expected to miss 4-6 weeks, Varejao should be back in a Cavaliers uniform sometime this month.
Before Varejao left the lineup, the Cavs captured wins against several contenders including the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Since Varejao's departure, the Cavs are 3-8 with all but two of the matchups coming at home. Two of those three wins are by one point, a 93-92 home win over the Sacramento Kings and a 101-100 home win over the Detroit Pistons.
"Somebody in the locker room has to get to a point where they're just tired of it (losing)," Scott said. "It's as simple as that."
Jefferson nearly posted a triple-double and led Utah with 25 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Gordon, a second-year forward for the Jazz, chipped in 23 points, four rebounds and five assists. Utah forward Paul Millsap added 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
"I thought a lot of it was their physicality," Scott said after his team was out-rebounded 46-30. "I just thought they were banging us and pushing us under the rim, getting tipped balls and things like that. It wasn't just Millsap or Jefferson, it was one through five.
"They were just more physical and aggressive than we were and it just shows how much we miss Andy (Varejao) as well."
It's safe to say the Cavaliers are slumping. The Cavs are 0-5 since coming back from the All-Star break.
"I didn't think we really competed for the 48 minutes as we had been doing, except the last couple games," Scott said. "Tonight was one of those games where you're hoping that sooner or later somebody in the locker room starts getting pissed off besides me; that's what it kind of boils down to.
"Somebody has to start looking at this and taking it a little bit more serious, and understanding that we can't keep playing this way."
The Cavs will now head to Denver for a Wednesday night matchup with the Nuggets.
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POSTED 03/05/2012 23:14