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Hornets-Cavs final thoughts: Problems center in the middle

By Jason Lloyd Published: February 22, 2012

Byron Scott will head home to Los Angeles to get some golf and R&R in over the next couple of days. When he returns on Monday, he'll still have a major problem at center.

The loss of Anderson Varejao might leave the Cavs with the worst collection of centers, statistically speaking, in the NBA. Ryan Hollins is averaging 3.1 points and 1.9 rebounds, while Semih Erden is averaging 3.3 points and 2.6 rebounds.

Scott keeps going back to Erden, only to bench him in disugst when he doesn't think Erden is giving the right kind of effort. But his options are limited. Hornets center Chris Kaman pounded Erden and Ryan Hollins for 15 points in the first half. He had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the game.

Scott's best alternative at center isn't a center at all. Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 10 rebounds in less than 16 minutes, but Scott couldn't use him in the fourth quarter because Thompson couldn't hit a free throw. On a night when points were scarce, he was too much of a liability offensively to trust.

It's a problem that isn't going away. Varejao will miss at least a couple more weeks, leaving Scott to rotate between Erden and Hollins while holding Thompson back for the fourth quarter -- on nights when he can hit at least half his free throws.

The fact that the Cavs' two best centers right now are both power forwards -- Thompson and Varejao -- is indicative of how much work this roster still needs.

Stats
Cavs

Antawn Jamison 22 points, 12 rebounds
Kyrie Irving 6 points, 11 assists*
Alonzo Gee 13 points, 5 rebounds
Hornets
Chris Kaman 21 points, 13 rebounds
Gustavo Ayon 9 points, 17 rebounds*
* - career high

Key stat
The Cavs' starting backcourt of Irving and Daniel Gibson combined to shoot 3 of 22 tonight.

Turning point
Marco Belinelli's 3-pointer with 1:04 left gave the Hornets an 81-74 lead. The way these teams weren't scoring, that may as well have been a 17-point lead.

Quotable
“My shots were literally going in and out. It was one of those nights where you look at the ball and say, ‘Go in for me once.'" -- Kyrie Irving

Up next
The All-Star break. The Cavs (13-18) host the Boston Celtics (15-17) next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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