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Cleveland Cavaliers

Final thoughts: Bucks 121, Cavs 84

By Jason Lloyd Published: March 31, 2012

Suddenly this 37-point loss doesn't seem to matter anymore. Not if Kyrie Irving is forced to miss a substantial amount of time with this shoulder injury.

Irving scored 29 of the Cavs' 84 points on Friday. If he doesn't play, the Cavs may struggle to break 70 points. Seriously. If Antawn Jamison has an off shooting night, forget it.

I haven't had a chance to talk to Jamison in a couple of days, but by appearances, this losing seems to be taking a heavy toll on him. 

Even through the torture of last season, Jamison was always the pro who stood behind and answered every painful question with blunt honesty. But after Wednesday's loss to Detroit, Jamison lingered in the trainer's room much, much longer than usual. Then tonight he was gone before reporters were even allowed in the locker room.

Jamison took only four shots tonight. He passed up plenty of other chances when he was open. That's very, very unlike him. 

As for the game, the Cavs simply failed to defend the 3-point line. Only 48 of the Bucks' 121 points came in the paint. That's just one set of staggering numbers.

The Bucks had 32 assists and only six turnovers. The Cavs mustered just 10 points in the fourth when the game was out of reach, the Bucks weren't trying very hard and the Cavs' starters sat the entire quarter. Still, the bench struggled to score.

Talked to a respected basketball mind whom I trust tonight and who watched the game. His analysis? The Cavs are tired. They've got nothing left in their legs and they still have a month left in the season. That's a problem.

So now we've reached the part of the season where I ask where the Cavs' next win will come. It was painful at times last season circling the winnable games, but let's do it again.

Barring another Oklahoma City/Denver-like upset, the Cavs' next reasonable shot at winning would seem to be April 6 at Toronto. But since the Raptors play like the Bulls every time they see the Cavs, scratch it. That leaves April 8 at New Jersey.

That's five losses from now, meaning this losing streak could easily reach double digits. Once that happens, the mental exhaustion of such a streak can really take a toll. Once that happens, these things can spiral out of control.

Bottom line? Before the season I thought the Cavs would be fortunate in this lockout-shortened season to reach last year's 19-win mark. Around the All-Star break, that type of prediction looked way off base. But at 17-32 and a grueling April schedule ahead, the Cavs might finish right around that 20-win mark after all.

Stats

Cavs: Kyrie Irving 29 points, Alonzo Gee 19 points, Tristan Thompson 15 points, 11 rebounds; Bucks: Brandon Jennings 28 points, Ersan Ilyasova 20 points, Mike Dunleavy 16 points (4-5 3-pointers), Monta Ellis 13 points.

Key stat

The Bucks made eight consecutive 3-pointers during the first half.

Turning point

The Bucks outscored the Cavs 20-1 to begin the second quarter, removing all doubt less than 17 minutes into the game.

Quotable

"You have to just hang in there and stick to what we're trying to do and continue to try to get better as a basketball team, continue to try to get better as individuals. Come out tomorrow night with more fight, play harder. I still think we're playing hard but right now we've got to go above and beyond, especially on the defensive end because that's what's killing right now." -- Byron Scott

Up next

The Cavs (17-32) face the New York Knicks (26-26) at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Madison Square Garden.

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