It's apparent to anyone watching the games every night, but coach Byron Scott and Antawn Jamison acknowledged after the game that the Cavs simply don't have the talent anymore to match up with some of these teams in the league.
Again, it may sound like a "Well duh!" type moment, given the 8-39 record and 20 game losing streak, but Scott and Jamison are two of the biggest competitors on the team. When they start conceding the talent isn't there anymore, you have to wonder how bad it is for some of the other guys on the team.
Jamison is the one who scoffed as if he was offended when, on New Year's Day, I asked if he was surprised by how well the Cavs played against the Chicago Bulls. His replay was, in short, he's never surprised because he enters every game believing he can win. That might still be true, it might not. I didn't get the chance to follow up with him on it because too many other reporters came over and I had to get writing.
One thing is clear, though: The Cavs seem to be losing their will with every loss, particularly against the good teams. They're caught in a rut right now of playing against four of the best teams in the league: the Nuggets, Celtics, Magic and Heat. Not surprisingly, the first three games didn't go very well and tomorrow's game against the Heat won't be much better.
The Cavs' lineup is a wreck. Nothing against Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels, both of whom have fared well at times (particularly for undrafted rookies), but a strong case could be made that neither would even be on the roster of a playoff team. They'd be learning the game in the D-League. The same could be said of Alonzo Gee, although he did spend time with the Spurs last season. That's 25 percent of the roster, yet Harris is a starter and Samuels is playing big minutes on this team.
The injury to Daniel Gibson further compounds an already messy situation. Gibson will miss at least one game and perhaps more, leaving the Cavs with just one relatively healthy point guard in Ramon Sessions. Their backup now is Harris, who doubles as the starting shooting guard. Scott could go back to starting Alonzo Gee or Anthony Parker and bring Harris off the bench, but Parker still has a sore back and is just now working his way back to the 20-minute mark.
No matter how you look at it, the Cavs are a mess -- both in roster and in record. Forty-seven down, 35 to go.
Manny Harris 20 points
Samardo Samuels 16 points (career high)
J.J. Hickson 0 points (0-5 shooting), 11 rebounds
Antawn Jamison 7 points (2-11 shooting), 10 rebounds
Dwight Howard 20 points, 20 rebounds
Ryan Anderson 23 points, 16 rebounds
JJ Redick 17 points
The Magic played hard for the first 12 minutes, scoring 24 points in the paint, to take a 33-17 lead into the second quarter. They coasted the rest of the game.
The Cavs have lost (pick your favorite): a) 20 in a row, b) 23 in a row on the road, c) 30 of 31, d) 39 of 47 this season.
They said it
"My friends are smart, they don’t talk to me about (the season). They call and talk about everything else, then they say 'Hang in there.' That’s all. They know not to talk to me about basketball. They don’t know a damn thing about basketball, anyway." -- coach Byron Scott
The Cavs (8-39) play at Miami (33-14) at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.