A scout from an opposing team was packing up his papers and shaking his head when he looked over to me.
"What's wrong with this team?" he said.
Wouldn't we all like to know.
The Cavs are not a playoff team. Fine. They've been hit hard by injuries. True. But this is still a roster that shouldn't lose games by 55 points. There are still enough pieces here that this shouldn't be the worst team in the league, yet that's exactly what they are. The scout saw Sacramento recently.
"They're better than this team," he said. "They're playing better than this team. The only one who gave any effort tonight was Manny."
Playing hard was a problem for the Cavs earlier in the season. They never recovered from consecutive losses to Boston and Miami. They went out on the road and lost three games to horrible teams that they should've won -- at Minnesota, Philadelphia and Detroit. Instead, they lost all three and the season was in tatters.
I looked at a colleague early in the game tonight and mentioned how for young players, there must be some level of stage fright associated with playing at Staples Center. Jack Nicholson sits courtside. Cameron Diaz was sitting near center court tonight. Andy Garcia sat at one baseline and Will Ferrell was at the other. Not to mention the mystique of the two-time defending champion Lakers.
All of that might not mean much to grizzled vets like Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and even Jamario Moon. But regardless of what they say, that has to make an impact on guys like Alonzo Gee, Manny Harris, Samardo Samuels, Christian Eyenga and even Ramon Sessions. That's how it looked, and that's what Byron Scott thought, too.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Scott said. "But to come out and just not compete? There's no excuse for that."
The Cavs have been giving better effort in games until this debacle. I actually believe they'll respond with a pretty good effort Friday in Utah, although they don't have much chance of beating the Jazz at home. That will sap whatever energy and life they can bring into that game and ruin them for Saturday against Denver.
The Nuggets are a mess right now with the Carmelo Anthony rumors swirling daily. Had those games been flipped, where the Cavs could've caught the Nuggets coming off this embarrassment, I think they would've had a decent shot at a win. But that's how it has gone this season for the Cavs. Nothing has gone right. Everything is wrong. Including this losing streak, which doesn't look like it'll ever end.
Scott repeated tonight how he knew December and January were going to be difficult months. No one thought they would be this difficult.
Alonzo Gee 12 points, eight rebounds
Ramon Sessions 10 points, four assists
Mo Williams, 2 points, 1 of 9 shooting
Antawn Jamison 6 points, 3 of 10 shooting
Samardo Samuels 3 points, 1 of 12 shooting
Kobe Bryant 13 points, eight assists
Pau Gasol 13 points, 14 rebounds
Ron Artest 15 points, six assists
Andrew Bynum 15 points, six rebounds
The opening tip. Seriously. The Lakers sped out to a 13-2 lead in the game's first four minutes and were never threatened.
The Lakers' halftime total of 57 equaled the Cavs' score for the game.
They said it
“It can’t get any worse than this. If it does, y'all gonna have to help me because I don’t know how much of this I can take. This, by far, is rock bottom." -- Antawn Jamison
The Cavs (8-30) are at Utah at 9 p.m. on Friday