In perhaps the most frustrating performance in a month jam-packed with them, the Cavaliers flopped to a new low Monday, refusing to move the ball or play with any sort of gumption on defense.
The result: An embarrassing 104-97 loss to the host Dallas Mavericks in a game that wasn’t nearly as competitive as the final score might indicate.
Instead, the Cavs got abused by the likes of Dwight Powell (a former little-used Cavs center) and Yogi Ferrell (an undrafted rookie guard who arrived from the D-League about four days ago).
“Was he in Erie or Buffalo?” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle asked reporters of Ferrell. “I don’t know. No one knows where he came from.”
And on this night, the Cavs’ defense didn’t know where to find him, as Ferrell shot 3-of-6 on 3-pointers.
It’s true the Cavs were without Kevin Love and his back spasms, and of course, J.R. Smith and his bum thumb. That’s two starters from a team that already struggles to stay motivated at this time of year.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert told ESPN on Sunday that it’s January — indicating it’s hardly time to panic.
There is some truth to that. But January is over now and the Cavs need to find some resolve beyond going through the motions and hoping lesser teams will just fold.
Right now, everyone is much too casual.
Coach Tyronn Lue said the Cavs’ energy “was down,” and “we just didn’t have it.”
Man, he’s right about that one. Such was the case in all of January, as the Cavs (34-13) finished the month with a 7-8 mark. They’ve lost seven of 11.
Some of the losses, like this one, were downright inexplicable. The Mavs. The New Orleans Pelicans without Anthony Davis. The Sacramento Kings at home.
When and where does it end?
Hopefully, the answer is February. Because January stinks.
“We gotta do a better job, which we will,”Cavaliers star LeBron James told the media. “On to the next one.”
James finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but again, committed too many turnovers (five) and sort of led the charge when it came to defending only when it was convenient.
Kyrie Irving finished with 18 points, but was just 1-of-8 on 3-pointers. Some of the misses were the result of tired legs, some just unfairly rattled out.
Those things happen, and when they do, you need to work extra hard on defense and getting rebounds. The Cavs did not.
Channing Frye tacked on 13 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. But overall, the Cavs’ bench resembles a bad combination of over-the-hill types and inexperience.
The Mavs (18-30) received a team-high 24 points from Harrison Barnes.
Wes Matthews added 21 and Ferrell scored 19.
The Cavs return home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
Love underwent an MRI on Monday and no structural damage was revealed. He will miss at least Wednesday’s game, and likely the one Saturday at New York.
“We all gotta be better,” Irving told FOX Sports Ohio. “It starts with myself.”