Byron Scott just got done finishing off his Christmas wish list before Wednesday's game: a dominant post-up player or a dominant scorer on the perimeter. One of the two, he said, is what this Cavs team is missing the most.
Then the Cavs went out and got beat by another dominant perimeter player Wednesday night in Atlanta's Joe Johnson.
It's become a recurring trend for the Cavs, and the most frustrating part for the players might be the fact they had that dominant perimeter player not long ago. Now that he's gone, they don't have anyone else capable of taking and making the big shots every night.
Like so many games before this one, the Cavs never really seemed out of it, but they were hardly in it. They trailed for the final 33 minutes, it was all they could do to keep the deficit within 10 and then the Hawks finally took over in the final minutes. It was the same formula the Cavaliers have used for years.
Now it's happening to them, over and over and over. As Scott said after the game, it's not a mental thing with the Cavs, it's physical. They simply don't have the players capable of competing with the best teams in the league. Even the middle-tier teams. The Hawks are a playoff team, but there are easily six or seven teams in the league that are far superior. This is a Hawks team that lost on the road recently to the Pistons and Nets, but the Cavs couldn't make it a trifecta.
Antawn Jamison warned a few weeks ago that if the Cavs weren't careful, the season could be lost by Christmas. Well they've won just once since then -- in fact, they've won once this month -- and the season is officially lost. Scott will keep adding to his wish list (big man, athleticism, defensive-minded players) and then hand it over to GM Chris Grant, who is already at work on it in trade scenarios.
Scott rattled off the equivalent of about four or five traits he wants in players that he doesn't currently have. It's not hard to run the numbers and see Scott wants at least half of this roster turned over. That's a far cry from the preseason, when Scott thought (and I believed) that there was more talent on this team than people were giving them credit for having. They were right, we were wrong. And Cavs fans, for now, have lumps of coal for Christmas.
Antawn Jamison 23 points, 10 of 16 shooting
Mo Williams 18 points, 11 assists
Anderson Varejao 13 rebounds
Joe Johnson 23 points, seven assists
Josh Smith 16 points, 11 rebounds
Marvin Williams 17 points
Joe Johnson sank consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to turn a seven-point Hawks lead into a 91-78 lead with 5:41 left in the game.
The Cavs shot just 5 of 22 on 3-pointers, including 0 of 6 in the second quarter as their first-quarter lead quickly dissolved.
They said it
"Joe's a great player. I could be 6-9, you're not going to stop him from scoring." -- Daniel Gibson, who was giving away at least six inches while trying to defend Johnson most of the night.
The Cavs (8-21) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (6-23) Sunday night at the Q.