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Random dribbles on the Cavaliers’ stunner of a 102-100 road loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday.
1. How bad are the Cavs right now? They can’t even win right.
2. OK, the Cavs didn’t win. But they should have. They led by nine points with 9 minutes left. The also led by one with 18.7 seconds left … and had the ball!
3. That meant the Magic had to foul. And foul they did after the ball was inbounded to Kyle Korver. But the refs were too busy trying out for a starring role in “Three Blind Mice” to make a call, and allowed Evan Fournier to slap Korver’s arm and steal the ball… then dribble down the court and drive in for a layup. Then the refs had the audacity to call a foul on Cedi Osman when Fournier blew the shot!
4. The ball doesn’t lie, so Fournier missed one of two free throws. Tie game, and the Cavs had the ball again. A few seconds later, George Hill drove and put up a layup. It was blocked out of bounds with 1.8 seconds left. Cavs ball. … No wait. Magic ball?? That’s what the officials decided after going to that doggone replay monitor and overturning the call.
5. It left just enough time for Fournier to take a dribble and put up a shot from the top of the 3-point line with Osman closely guarding him. His toe was on the line, but it didn’t matter. The shot sailed through the basket right before the final buzzer, because of course it did.
6. Few things in life are worse than losing on a jumper by a balding, borderline scrub who couldn’t make a shot early in the game. But that’s where the Cavs (1-9) are these days. “Most of the time you don’t win those games,” Fournier told reporters.
7. Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious.
8. Joking aside, it’s hard to know where the Cavs go from here. At least they competed and played with some energy. That’s actually been fairly commonplace on the road so far. They just aren’t winning — anywhere. And they’ve looked awful at home.
9. Cavs coach Larry Drew, owner of a new contract, on the game: “We put ourselves in a great situation and we just did not execute down the stretch. When situations come up like that, you have to know what to do and execute. We didn’t handle it and that is why we lost the game.”
10. Interestingly, the Cavs are still playing the older guys and it was the older guys who gave them a real shot.
11. Hill scored 22, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and was an icy 10-of-12 shooting. Tristan Thompson gave his finest showing in a long, long time with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson went for 14 points, including an amazing eight in a span of 71 seconds.
12. And yes, J.R. Smith played lots, caught fire, and also scored 14.
13. I have no idea why the Cavs continue to give so many of the veterans so many minutes. That’s especially the case for Smith. Nothing against Smith, but the Cavs need to rebuild. You do that by giving the young guys the majority of the minutes.
14. I wrote an entire column about this earlier. Read it here.
15. On the bright side for those who want the Cavs to go in the tank, they’re playing the older players and still not winning. They’re just sometimes coming close.
16. As for the young guys, well, there’s still a lot to be determined. And that’s OK. You’re 10 games in. There are 72 more to go. Right now, though, I’m not quite sure what to make of Osman (11 points, 10 boards, 5-of-17 shooting and at least one costly turnover) or rookie Collin Sexton (five points, two assists and two turnovers, and only 17 minutes).
17. I sure would like to see more of Ante Zizic and David Nwaba, too. I mean, why are those two playing a combined zero minutes? Are the Cavs trying to keep them a secret?
18. That said, I do think Drew is the best coach the Cavs have had in some time. He deserves a little grace to try to get things figured out, I suppose.
19. The Magic (4-6) received 23 points from Aaron Gordon, 15 from Fournier and 15 more from noted Pearl Jam fan Terrence Ross. They were coming off a road win over the San Antonio Spurs, and they seem to be much more organized under new coach Steve Clifford.
20. It’s still pro basketball, so it’s still tons of fun. But I have a feeling we may not know what the Cavs’ actual plan is until sometime in January. Translation: Buckle up, folks. It’s likely bound to be every bit as rocky for quite some time. I’ll still write about it, though. And that is about the only guarantee I’ll make when it comes to this team this season.