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Cleveland Cavaliers

Final thoughts: Hawks 121, Cavs 94

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 22, 2012

The Cavs are officially taking Sunday off. They unofficially took Friday and Saturday off, too (ba-dump-bump!).

It had to be a long flight home from Atlanta late Saturday night for a team wondering where all that good mojo went so quickly. The good vibes from a 6-7 start are all gone, washed away in the bloodbath that was consecutive losses by a combined 66 points.

The Cavs had zero fight last season. They would get drilled and humiliated night after night after night during that brutal 26-game losing streak. I would think (hope?) we won't have a repeat this season, but a third straight humiliating loss could be coming Tuesday at Miami.

Byron Scott is demanding the Cavs play defense, only the message doesn't seem to be sinking in. The problems that plagued them last season (defending the pick-and-roll and 3-point line) are cropping up again lately. Scott said Saturday if guys are going to relax or "rest" on the floor, he wants them doing it on offense and not defense.

Scott was particularly harsh Saturday before the game in assessing Kyrie Irving's defense from Friday against the Chicago Bulls and C.J. Watson. It was a bit surprising to me, because I thought Irving had games where he was far worse defensively than Friday.

Watson is a darn good point guard and he just torched the Phoenix Suns before he got hold of Irving and the Cavs. I think Scott's chastising had a couple of angles: He has been asking Irving to be better defensively since the preseason and he's tired of asking and perhaps Scott heard some of the grumblings for removing Irving from the game Friday when he was playing well offensively.

Scott was clear that Irving's minutes will increase when his defense improves. Scott says his biggest problem is relaxing when his man doesn't have the ball, but I'm watching Irving get beaten off the dribble time and time again. He's also having a hard time fighting through screens.

Ultimately, he's 19 years old and far, far from the Cavs' biggest problem at this point. While his plus/minus of minus-28 tonight is a concern, no one on this team is playing well right now. But I'll have to disagree with Antawn Jamison, who said tonight that this is worse than last season. Last season was way worse than anything the Cavs have endured yet. For their sake (and mine), hopefully we won't get anywhere near that point again this season.

Key stat
From the start of the second quarter Friday night until the end of the third quarter Saturday -- a span of six quarters -- the Cavs scored just 102 points.

Turning point
The Hawks had an 8-0 run in the first quarter, a 9-0 run in the second and a 13-2 run in the third quarter. The Cavs have been unable to slow the momentum lately when the opponent gets hot.

Quotable
“We’re not there (rock bottom) yet, but we’re definitely on our way.” -- Byron Scott

Quotable II
"Worse than last season. We're better than this." -- Antawn Jamison

Up next
The Cavs (6-9) play at Miami (11-4) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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