Random dribbles following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 127-99 meltdown of a road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
1. Where to begin? Honestly, there was nothing positive to take away from this one. The Cavs should’ve just kept on their warmups, shook the Timberwolves’ hands and headed straight back to the bus. It would’ve been considerably less embarrassing.
2. It’s easy to get all worked up and rip everyone after a loss like this, and that’s what I want to do. But I’m not going to. It really is just one game. And what difference does it make if the Cavs bounce back and win at Toronto on Thursday?
3. Knowing these Cavs, that could happen.
4. Knowing these Cavs, they could also go to Toronto and get drilled again.
5. Basically, do we really know these Cavs? Sometimes, it feels like it. But they seem to surround every winning streak with a couple of lousy bookends.
6. The Cavs started the season 5-7. Then they won 13 in a row and 18 of 19, looking like they were really coming together. Now, they’ve lost five of seven.
7. The Cavs have had three opportunities to make real statements in the past three weeks — at Golden State, at Boston, at Minnesota. They lost them all. Against the Celtics and Timberwolves, it wasn’t even close.
8. Kevin Love, who finished 1-of-7 shooting Monday, was atrocious against both the Celtics and T-Wolves. He was great against the Warriors.
9. I don’t get it, either. So don’t ask.
10. LeBron James, who is never atrocious, was not good. He took eight shots … for 10 points … and the Cavs were outscored by 39 when he was on the floor.
11. They say LeBron has played worse. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it. If I have, I sure don’t remember it.
12. Nor do I remember seeing James look so despondent after a loss. He sat in front of his locker, shirtless, looking down while scratching his head and sort of mumbling through answers.
13. LeBron on finishing with a plus-minus of minus-39: “I’ve won a game and had a bad plus-minus before, so what does that matter? I don’t give a damn about no damn plus/minus.”
14. Jeff Green actually led the Cavs with 22 points, and Kyle Korver scored 19. Dwayne Wade added 13. But each did most of his damage with the outcome decided. So, as LeBron might say, what does that matter?
15. I keep writing it, and J.R. Smith keeps giving me reason to write it. But something needs to be done. He is giving the Cavs nothing. He doesn’t defend well enough to provide zero offense. If he’s not scoring, and he’s not defending, well, why is he out there?
16. Sad to say it, but Jae Crowder isn’t exactly making opponents worry, either. He’s been OK defensively, but not enough to make up for his inconsistent offense. What does Crowder give you? Why does he absolutely, positively have to start?
18. Isaiah Thomas shot 3-of-11 and couldn’t get anything going. I don’t think you can hold this game against him. Everybody stunk. He just fell in line with his teammates — until getting ejected midway through the third quarter.
19. I know I’ve written way too much about this game already. You can read more of my thoughts right here.
20. In that story, you’ll see Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said no changes are coming to the lineup. I don’t believe him. I think Lue just didn’t want to tell the media before he told the players.
21. Why not start Tristan Thompson again and move Crowder to the bench? Or start Jeff Green, or Channing Frye? I have no clue what Thompson is adding to the team this season, other than staying active and playing hard. But he can’t score and he doesn’t protect the basket. His rebounding is way down. But hey, I’d start him if it meant mixing it up for a night.
22. Mostly, I think this team is screaming for yet another trade. They need a strong defender, preferably one at the rim. That will allow the wings to go out on shooters and not care if those shooters drive by.
23. The good news is, the Cavs are still 26-14. They are still very good in spite of some of their very obvious flaws. But Lue needs to get creative here, not be bull-headed, and start putting some winning combinations on the floor. Don’t mess around and wait until guys get it together. It’s getting too late for that.