You didn’t expect Dirk Nowitzki to miss all of ‘em, did you?
The Big German finished with just 13 points on 6-17 shooting, but his final two buckets sealed the game as Dallas came back to beat the Cavaliers 96-86. The Cavaliers led by an many as eleven points and held a 48-36 advantage at halftime, but turnovers, stagnant offense and horrendous defense doomed the Cavaliers in the second half. Eleven of the Cavaliers’ eighteen turnovers came in the second half and Dallas scored 58 points after halftime
Dion Waiters paced Cleveland with 21 points (9-19 FG) and Shaun Livingston finished 13 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Cavs fell to 22-43. Rodrigue Beaubois led Dallas with 18 points and was one of three bench players to score in double figures for the Mavericks, who climbed to 31-34 for 10th in the West (three games behind the Lakers for the eight and final playoff spot).
While the Cavs ended the game poorly, this wasn’t the prettiest of starts either. Sure, they held an early lead (six minutes in they had a 13-4 lead) but Dallas wouldn’t hit double digits until there was just under four minutes left in the first period. In the second quarter, the Cavs had a good six minute stretch where they made a single basket. This is to be expected; without Kyrie Irving’s playmaking ability, the Cavs are going to suffer scoring droughts, especially against a well coached team like the Mavericks.
Cavs young bigs still have room to grow. Lotsa room. I need more complete games out of both Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. In 30 minutes, Thompson pulled down as many defensive rebounds as CJ Miles did in 18. Unacceptable. Meanwhile, Zeller had himself a nice first half of eight points and nine boards, but finished with just ten in both categories. Thompson showed off his driving right, jump hook/floater move at times, but he also took that same push shot from a face up-position. Taking that shot on the move is one thing, doing it from a three-point stance is quite another.
Too much dribbling from Alonzo Gee. With Irving out, there are times that Gee will be creating his own shot. Some times they’re end of shot clock possessions which, while regrettable, are at least understandable. But other times he tries to make something happen early in the shot clock. No one needs this.
Wayne Ellington was out with an ankle sprain, so Boobie Gibson played 22 minutes. Twenty. Two. Gibson missed the only shot he took and finished with four assists and a +/- of -17. If the guy isn’t hitting threes, I’m not sure why you want him out there. It’s not his defense, that’s for sure.
Games like this are why I’m weary of the Cavs paying Marreese Speights this summer. Don’t get me wrong, the big fella has had some monster games for the Cavs this season. But Friday wasn’t one of ‘em. Speights finished with two points and a board in his 13 minutes of court time.
Will Omri Casspi ever play non-garbage time minutes for the Cavaliers again? Considering Casspi received a DNP-CD during a game where the Cavs were missing Kyrie and Ellington, odds point to “no”.
Rec-league Walton had a few more shining moments. Luke finished with nine points, five assists, three boards and two steals in just under 20 minutes of court time. The Cavs offense broke down so poorly in the second half that the Cavs spent a few possessions watching Luke Walton hold the ball. Luke Walton! His best skill at this point is finding cutters and none of the Cavs would cut. Also, I enjoy that Walton takes (and sometimes even makes!) those “fine, if you’re gonna dare me to shoot, I’m shooting” jumpers.
Cavs finish their two-game Texas road trip on Saturday night. The Cavs will be in San Antonio on Saturday night, facing the team with the best record in the Western Conference, the Spurs (50-16). Cavs then come home to face the Pacers on Monday and LeBron and the Miami Heat on Wednesday before coming back to Texas to face the Rockets next Friday.