CHICAGO: Sixteen thoughts tonight for a 16-point loss to a Bulls team the Cavs should’ve beaten Saturday…
1. The final numbers are in and they aren’t pretty. The Bulls shot 54 percent and 67 percent on 3-pointers, both season highs. Their 10 3-pointers were one shy of their season high. They scored 100 points for the fifth time this season.
2. The Bulls entered 29th in the league in scoring and shooting. They had lost four straight and seven of eight. This isn’t a case of a wounded team figuring out how to play well, this is a Cavs team that just completely fell apart defensively.
3. The Cavs’ defensive rotations were terrible, they left shooters open around the perimeter most of the night and the Bulls’ bigs chewed them up inside. Not to mention D.J. Augustin, who was out of the league two weeks ago, had 18 points and 10 assists and played all but 90 seconds in the game.
4. “We did some things defensively in the first half that we don't even practice,” Mike Brown said. “We're switching when we shouldn't switch. We're not even switching correctly.”
5. I hate to keep going back to the last couple of years, but sometimes I feel like I’m standing in a time warp. Yet again, there were countless nights when Byron Scott would bemoan the Cavs’ defensive effort and say, “They were doing things out there we’ve never even practiced.” I thought it was Scott not working hard enough on the defensive end, but now that a defensive maniac like Brown is saying it, it’s startling.
6. “There were a lot of things I saw our team do defensively where you sit back and go, 'Is this really us that showed up tonight?'” Brown said.
7. I’ve mentioned to Brown a couple of times in recent weeks I thought Dion Waiters defends better when he scores. When he’s not scoring, he doesn’t defend well, either. Brown dismissed it because he believes everyone can defend whether they’re hitting shots or not.
8. Waiters didn’t play Saturday, but Brown conceded for the first time some guys on this team might defend better when shots are falling. And he’s not happy about it. “I hope not,” he said, “because we're not going to win a lot of games that way, especially on the road.”
9. The Cavs are 2-12 on the road. Opponents are shooting 47.8 percent against the Cavs on the road, but 42.2 percent at the Q. Teams shoot 41.3 percent on 3-pointers when the Cavs are on the road, but 32.7 percent at the Q. Teams are scoring 98.1 points at the Q and 103.8 points when the Cavs are on the road.Those are significant splits.
10. As far as Saturday, the Bulls’ bigs have the luxury of years playing together. Their backcourt was decimated with injuries, but Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah made some terrific passes from the perimeter to each other in the post. The Bulls are terrible offensively, but they had terrific ball movement against the Cavs.
11. “Those are the best bigs who play together,” C.J. Miles said, referring to Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Nazr Mohammed. “You see Booz and Jo make passes to each other cutting down the lane all the time. Usually those are guards making those cuts.”
12. Boozer had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Noah had 9 of his 11 points in the first half. Noah also killed the Cavs with 18 rebounds.
13. The Cavs have been a pretty good rebounding team most of the season, but they’ve now been outrebounded in four of their last five games. A couple of those, against Orlando and Miami, they were outrebounded by one. Hardly reason to panic. But the Cavs are giving up offensive rebounds to teams, and players, that shouldn’t be getting them.
14. I thought the Cavs were making a legitimate push to get back in the game late in the third quarter. The deficit was down to 8 with three minutes left, then Taj Gibson made a short floater to push it back to 10. Following a miss by Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavs played terrific defense for an entire possession and forced a tough shot from Tony Snell.
15. Snell missed the shot, but no one was in position to get the rebound, which bounced out of the lane. Noah picked up the ball and Snell got another shot, this time a great look at a 3-pointer right in front of Brown. After Andrew Bynum missed, Snell made another 3-pointer. That 8-point deficit had doubled in two minutes. The game was over.
16. The Cavs’ offense was stagnant. There was too much dribbling, guys were standing around and there was no flow. But the offense actually looked pretty good the last few games, so let’s reserve judgment until Monday’s home game against the Pistons. Tonight, all the way around, was a night to forget.