Cavaliers humiliated by Nets 113-95
BY EDDIE DILWORTH
CAVS BEAT WRITER
The Cleveland Cavaliers are losing games in a way they haven't seen since Kyrie Irving was still at Duke University.
The Cavs entered Wednesday as losers of their previous nine games, and hadn't lost more than nine in a row since their NBA-record 26-game losing streak two seasons ago. That was before the Brooklyn Nets came to town.
Brooklyn extended Cleveland's losing streak to 10 straight after thoroughly pounding the Cavs en route to a 113-95 victory in Quicken Loans Arena.
"Things went from bad to worse," Irving said. "Once we got down, our whole game plan coming in, what we were going to do with them on the plays that they were running, just went down the drain."
The contest was down the drain by halftime. Brooklyn led Cleveland, 66-36 at the half, but the Nets really only needed their backcourt in the frame. Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson missed his fifth straight game with a sore left heel, but MarShon Brooks slid in seamlessly next to Deron Williams in the starting lineup. Brooks and Williams outscored Cleveland, 37-36, by themselves in the first half.
Brooks was the catalyst in the first half, while Williams added to the chaos. Brooks finished the first half 9-for-9 from the field, his final field goal a 6-foot floater that gave Brooklyn a 47-30 lead with 5:11 to play until halftime. The second-year guard scored a season-high 19 points and had four assists at halftime. Williams wasn't far from Brooks' first half output.
Williams totaled 18 points and six assists in the first half. When the Nets point guard drained his third 3-pointer of the half with 51 seconds remaining until halftime, Brooklyn led 63-34 and the team was shooting 75 percent (27-36) from the field. A Keith Bogans missed 3-pointer at the first half buzzer brought the Nets all the way down a 73 percent clip entering halftime.
"That was probably one of the worst halves that we've had in a while," a somber sounding Byron Scott said. "And I mean just from an effort and energy standpoint. Period."
Brooks finished with a career-high 27 points and a career-high tying seven assists, while Williams ended the night with 24 points and eight assists. Nets forward Reggie Evans chipped in eight points and 18 rebounds. None of the Cavaliers had a particularly stellar night.
Irving led Cleveland with a team-high tying 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting. He added six assists after missing the previous night in Atlanta. For the remainder of the season, the Cavs star will sit out the second half of back-to-back contests to help him recover from a sprained left shoulder that kept him out eight games March 12-29.
Cavs forward Marreese Speights totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds. Rookie center Tyler Zeller finished with 14 points and four rebounds. Six of Zeller's points came in the first quarter and the rook did hand Cleveland an early 7-5 lead with a 19-foot jumper. However, Brooklyn immediately went on a 10-0 run and never looked back.
"No," Scott said when asked if he was fed up with his team. "I'm disappointed though. I really am. After the effort we had in Atlanta; to come back an play this way, I'm very disappointed in the way we played. (We) just didn't show any life. The energy, the effort wasn't there for whatever reason."
Aside Johnson, the Nets were missing Gerald Wallace, who is also nursing a sore left foot. Nevertheless, the win against Cleveland set a franchise record for the most road wins (21) in a season. After two matchups in Brooklyn earlier this season, the Nets also completed the three-game season sweep of Cleveland.
"I felt like the first few minutes went well for us," Irving said. "We were in the game and then coming out in that second quarter, we didn't come with the intensity. They picked it up and we just didn't meet their intensity."
The reeling Cavs ran into a Nets team that is fighting for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Brooklyn (43-31) entered the night with a one-game lead over Atlanta and a two-game lead over Chicago. The win snapped Brooklyn's two-game losing streak as the team finished up an eight-game road trip in the process.
The last time the Cavs met Brooklyn, Cleveland forward C.J. Miles nailed a franchise record-tying eight three-pointers. There were no such heroics for Cleveland Wednesday night.
"We've been in a lot of games this season no matter what, and we know the potential that we have as a team on a day-to-day basis," Irving said. "I feel like these 10 losses in a row are just getting to a couple of us mentally, or guys are not going out there with the same intensity.
"I feel like right now we're just playing to just stay in the game. We're not playing to win and that needs to change."