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Lineup shuffle, big man struggles and Walton surprises Cousins: Cavs-Kings final thoughts

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 2, 2013
Waiters soars vs Kings
Dion Waiters had 20 points on 19 shots in his first game off the bench Wednesday, but the Cavs lost to the Sacramento Kings 97-94. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

 

CLEVELAND: Final thoughts from the Cavs' 97-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings, who improved to 2-13 on the road this season...

* I admit I was surprised by the lineup change. For as much time as Byron Scott has spent talking about Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters as the future of the Cavs' backcourt, it was rather curious to see him disassemble that after the two played only 17 games together.

* From all accounts, this was more to do with searching for a spark on a seven-win team more than anything else. The Cavs insist he has done nothing wrong and they're not unhappy with him -- even if he is shooting 37 percent and averaging as many attempts per game (14.9) as points (14.4). 

* Scott said this is more about riding C.J. Miles' hot hand, which cooled considerably after the first quarter. Miles missed his final six shots (five of those came in the third quarter) and completely vanished from the game. "I put a lot of pressure on myself when they made the run in the beginning (of the third quarter) trying to stop the bleeding," Miles said. 

* Miles finished 4 of 13 and the Cavs shot just 28 percent in the third quarter (7 of 25). But Miles, Waiters and Kyrie Irving all said the shots that weren't falling in the third quarter were the same looks that were dropping earlier. "I know the stats and what they say," Miles said. "But those are shots I've been knocking down."

* Dion Waiters heated up as the game went on because his shot selection improved. Waiters began just 2 of 8, but closed the night by making 6 of his last 11. Now the real numbers: Waiters was 6 of 7 inside the paint tonight and 2 of 12 everywhere else. Kid has to attack. Period.

* Here was an exchange tonight in the Kings' locker room that I was not present for, but laughed hysterically upon hearing nonetheless. A writer asked Cousins what he thought when he turned around and saw Luke Walton defending him. His answer was the highlight of the night. "What are you doing?" an incredulous Cousins asked Walton, who responded: "I guard twos through fives." 

* The Cavs got hosed on a shot clock violation in the fourth quarter when Tristan Thompson's shot hit the rim, but the shot clock wasn't reset. Irving hit a 3-pointer after the shot clock expired that should've counted and didn't. I'm not going to say everything else would have fallen exactly the same way, because it's impossible to predict how that would've changed the complexion of the game. But it was clearly a bad call.

* Similarly, Kyrie Irving's 56-foot heave at the final buzzer bounced off the rim, but it's probably a good thing it didn't fall. The officials counted the shot as a good attempt, but replays clearly showed the ball was in Irving's hand with all zeroes on the clock. Had he made it, the referees would have reviewed it and likely would have overturned it. 

* Tyler Zeller doesn't think he's struggling against the bigger, tougher centers in the NBA. He thinks he's struggling because of all the losing. Regardless of the reason, Zeller seems to have hit a rough patch. Zeller has 14 turnovers in his last four games and 16 in the last six. The most egregious Wednesday was a ball that bounced off his hands and trickled out of bounds. It should've been an easy catch, two dribbles and dunk. Instead it was a turnover out of bounds. "It floated a little more at the end," Zeller said. "I thought it was coming straight in, then all of a sudden it started floating on me. I had to try to reach back and catch it."

* Now the Cavs travel to face the woeful Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. The Bobcats ended an 18-game losing streak the other night with a win over the Chicago Bulls of all teams, meaning the Cavs' record 26-game losing streak from a few years ago is safe for now. Scott said it doesn't bother him to be affiliated with the longest losing streak in North American sports history. "I don't think about it," Scott said. "There might be a team gets to 20, then everybody will make a big deal about it and bring it to everyone's attention. But I don't think about that stuff."

* Random thought: I now find the timing of Scott's comparison between Waiters and James Harden curious. When I asked Scott about Waiters on New Years Eve, he evoked Harden's name for the first time as someone he'd like Waiters to study. Two days later, Scott placed him in the same role Harden held for years in Oklahoma City. 

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