Originally written November 13, 2012 on Fox Sports Ohio:
Nights like this are gonna happen, but that doesnt make them enjoyable or easier to handle. The verdict: Brooklyn 114, Cavaliers 101 on Tuesday in a game that was only close when it didnt really seem to matter. This was the Cavs first visit to the new Barclays Center, and the only people who seemed willing to get the most out of the experience were Anderson Varejao and (who else?) Kyrie Irving. Varejao did his best Moses Malone impersonation with a career-high 35 points and 18 rebounds. Varejao was a sizzling 16-of-21 from the floor, and even his misses came doggone close. Twenty-one of those points came in the first quarter, when the Cavs actually held a 30-29 lead. Meanwhile, Irving started considerably slower, but as he often does, came on strong at the end to finish with 34 points and eight assists. Problem is, the Cavs have to rest those guys once in a while. And through the first eight games, man, thats been one angry whopper of a problem. On Tuesday, the bench produced all of two field goals, both from forward Jon Leuer. And when you consider Leuer was whistled for the same amount of traveling violations well, you get the picture. The bottom line is if the Cavs want to contend for a playoff spot, they may need to make some sort of trade for bench help. Then again, who off the bench would anyone else want? Either way, things arent downright dreadful. Irving and Varejao make this team competitive on most nights, with opposing coaches utterly lauding the Cavs pick-and-roll game (particularly between those two). Also, rookie Dion Waiters appears to be a true find -- although he spent the latter stages of this road trip heaving too many shots from the perimeter, while driving to the basket less. But hey, hes a rookie. So far, so good. Thankfully, the six-game road trip has ended. It provided enough highlight-worthy moments and reasons for hope, but just one win. In this business, that victory stuff is really the only thing that counts. Right now, the Cavs have two of them (compared to six losses). They have three days to put in some work before their next game, not until Saturday vs. Dallas at The Q. With this team, theres no telling how that might go. Along with the bench, its hard to tell to know what youre going to get from one night to the next from the likes of starting forwards Tristan Thompson and Alonzo Gee (and even Waiters). All are very young, not entirely polished and still finding their way. Its a difficult process in the worlds best basketball league. In spite of that, the Cavs are giving people reasons to pay attention. Whether its their execution of the pick-and-roll, Irvings remarkable handle, Varejaos vigor or Waiters continued development this team is already in a better place than it was last year. All needs to do now is finish the job. Or at least get enough help to have a chance. The starters are doing their part. Something has to be done about the bench, though, or the Cavs will be talking about another high draft pick at this time next year. Thats not necessarily a bad thing. Unless, of course, that isnt the goal. Trouble is, where do you find help in reserve at this time of year? The answer is one the Cavs had better figure out, and they probably should try to do it, like, now. Dribbles Waiters finished just 3-for-16 shooting for eight points. Two of those makes were dunks off the fast break. The Big Three of the Nets looked about as good as it could with Deron Williams scoring 26 points, Joe Johnson going for 25 and Brook Lopez totaling 23. Johnson looks a bit heavier this year, but he can still get it done from the perimeter. The Nets are 4-2. Johnson is typically at his best when he takes a dribble or less. In the fourth quarter, late in the game, the Cavs stopped making him put the ball on the floor and heated up. Irving went 14-for-14 on free throws. Overall, the Cavs were 22-for-26 from the line, a much-needed improvement when you think about the first seven games. Opposing team executive on the Cavs: Theyre fine. People like to panic. But theyve had, what, two home games. I think theyll compete for a playoff spot. All you need to do is beat the sub-.500 teams at home and steal a few on the road. Theyre certainly capable of doing that. Former Cavs point guard Ramon Sessions scored 21 points for Charlotte in a 92-76 win over Washington. Dont look now, but the Bobcats are 3-3. Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO
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