Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
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It’s been a forgettable Western swing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Luckily for them, only one game remains.
Unfortunately for them, they suddenly looked like the Cavs of old — as in the Cavs of the beginning of the season that refused to do all the necessary things to win.
The meltdown took place Wednesday night in Sacramento, where the Cavs suffered an embarrassing 109-95 loss to the energetic and determined Kings.
This came one game after an emotional road loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors. And perhaps that spurred the issues Wednesday. Perhaps the Cavs were emotionally spent.
Or perhaps they just expected to win. After all, the Kings have struggled mightily this season and were coming off a 27-point road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers the previous night.
So perhaps the Cavs figured they could come out, mess around, and still get a win.
Well, not in this league, not on this night, and certainly not with 40-year-old Vince Carter doing his best imitation of … well, of Vince Carter, circa 2001.
Today’s Carter is averaging 2.9 points per game for the season. But Wednesday’s Carter scored 24 on 10-of-12 shooting, burying four 3-pointers along the way.
“He had some bombs,” Cavs star LeBron James told reporters. “Once he got going, we couldn’t slow him down.”
Overall, the Cavs’ defense was horrid and the offense stagnant.
James finished with his seventh triple-double of the season, compiling 16 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. But even he seemed out of sorts for portions of the night, as the Cavs (24-11) have now lost three of four.
“(The Kings) pretty much got everything they wanted offensively and from the perimeter, to the paint,” James said. “It’s just one of those games. We had zero rhythm.”
He speaks the truth. Besides James, no other member of the Cavs recorded more than one assist.
Kevin Love did manage a team-high 23 points and J.R. Smith gave one of his better showing in an otherwise disappointing season with 15.
Perhaps the biggest factor was the Kings’ reserves outscoring the Cavs’ bench by a whopping 68-32 count — with Carter, Willie Cauley-Stein (17 points, nine boards) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (16 points) leading the charge.
“For them having a lot of energy, a back-to-back after being in LA and getting this win, it was a tough one to swallow,” Love said.
The end of the world? Hardly. Not many people will remember this one come April, and these Cavs are certainly capable of putting together another impressive run.
And hey, All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas could make his season debut as soon as Saturday night at Utah.
But either way, the Cavs will need to get back to the basics, get back to taking every opponent seriously, and get back to being the contending team they say they are.