Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 1/9/12
A few random observations on the Cavaliers 98-78 defeat at Portland on Sunday: 1. Im far from disgusted by this loss, despite the fact it came by 20 points. Thats probably what makes me different than the coaches and players (well, that and my jump shot), but the Cavs kept it surprisingly close for two-and-a-half quarters. And I say surprising because the Trail Blazers are a very balanced and an all-around good team, especially at home. 2. Its easy to forget that the Cavs trailed just 55-50 midway through the third quarter, as Kyrie Irving was doing his best Steve Nash imitation with a couple of nifty moves near the rim. Irving finished with a career-high 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting. 3. That said, the rookie point guard is still getting into NBA game shape, and spent a lot of time bending over and clutching his shorts late in the third. Its pretty clear coach Byron Scott is keeping Irving in for longer stretches so he can get his wind back and learn to play well when tired. 4. I liked the maturity Irving showed when he took at least part of the blame for the Blazers fast-break points (22). Irving said, "I take responsibility for most of it. I wasn't getting back, and their guards were just leaking out behind me. Going forward, I'm just going to review film and see what I can do better. We are No. 1 in the league, which is a credit to our effort, but they really capitalized on our turnovers." 5. OK, I actually was disgusted by the 24 turnovers. You cant be that sloppy on the road, ever. When its against a team such as the Blazers, youre toast. As Scott said afterward, That's a good team over there, and when you turn the ball over 24 times, you're really not giving yourself a chance. 6. The Cavs also settled for too many 3-pointers -- and when you shoot 3-for-24 on threes as the Cavs did, its time to make the extra pass and work the ball inside. 7. And while 17-for-24 shooting on free throws isnt horrific, the Cavs will have to start being more consistent from the line if they want to do something special this season. A playoff team would hit 20-of-24 most nights. Still, Im nitpicking, and that was hardly the difference in this one. 8. Antawn Jamison had a particularly rough night shooting, going just 1-for-8 for three points. Nor did he attempt a free throw. Clearly, the Cavs missed his regular average of 18 points per game. But you have to like how Jamison kept playing hard even though he couldnt hit a shot, finishing with a team-high 11 rebounds. Thats leadership. 9. It was also nice to see rookie power forward Tristan Thompson reemerge with 10 points and five boards off the bench. Thompson struggled in the first two games of this trip, but seemed to regain his spring. He also compiled three massive blocks. 10. I figured if the young Cavs could win two of the seven games on this trip, it would be a success -- provided they competed in the losses. They already beat Minnesota, and have Utah, Phoenix, the L.A. Lakers and Charlotte left. The Jazz are playing well, but are certainly beatable if the Cavs move the ball, and mostly, take care of it. Still, I think the Suns and Bobcats are the most winnable games. 11. Former Cav and current analyst Campy Russell told me he thought the Cavs could win TWO more on this trip, for what its worth. One thing Ive learned about Campy is hes usually right. (And not just about basketball.) Sometimes, even to my dismay. 12. Yes, big man Samardo Samuels is really struggling. He almost looks like hes trying too hard, maybe forcing things a little. Hopefully, he gets it turned around soon, because the Cavs need him. 13. All in all, this Cavs team is so much more enjoyable to follow than the disaster last season. Its not even close. I really think fans who only see the final score are missing out. Twenty-point losses are never fun, but watching a team grow and learn and display real fight sure is. So far, thats been this years Cavs. 14. I really have nothing else to say, but Im wildly superstitious (no joke) and didnt want to stop on No. 13. So have a great day, and Ill have something NBA-related to post a little later. Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO
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