After scoring 22 points in the first half, Danny Granger was supposed to be a marked man for the Cavaliers in the second half. Supposed to be.
At halftime, coach Byron Scott implored his starters to stick with Granger in the second half. Jamario Moon and those defending Granger had to stick with him, get through every screen and never leave him.
"And his first shot (of the third quarter) was wide open," Scott said.
Saturday night was another example of how the Cavaliers have no margin for error this season. Down two starters, and against a team that is probably better than them even at full strength, makes the challenge even greater.
The ball movement again grinded to a stop in the third quarter because Scott said players stopped trusting each other offensively. The defensive problems were exacerbated by the loss of Anderson Varejao, who is easily the team's best post defender.
Scott had a short leash on Varejao's backup, Ryan Hollins, for the second consecutive game because of Hollins' breakdowns defending the pick-and-roll, particularly when Danny Granger shot right by him in the first half.
"Ryan is still young in this league. He's still learning," Scott said. "His effort has always been good. It's just a matter of understanding what we're trying to do on the defensive end, especially at pick-and-rolls. He's so long and athletic, he should do a much better job than what he did tonight."
For J.J. Hickson to finish with two rebounds, on a night when Varejao was absent, is really tough. But Hickson insists he was in the right places, the ball didn't bounce his way. He didn't have the numbers in front of him, but he thought the Cavs improved on denying the Pacers offensive rebounds and he was right. Indiana had seven offensive boards to the Cavs' 11.
But too often in the second half, the Cavs had defensive breakdowns along the perimeter at the worst possible time -- like when Granger and Mike Dunleavy were left open for consecutive 3-pointers that crushed the Cavs in the fourth quarter.
It's not fair to judge the Cavs when they're not at full strength, but then again, injuries strike every team and the Cavs' depth and bench play are supposed to be some of their best assets. At 4-5 and with the 76ers coming in on Tuesday, there is plenty of work left to be done.
Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Pacers an 81-72 lead with 8:55 remaining. The Cavs didn't get the deficit below eight points the rest of the night.
The Cavs have lost four in a row at home for the first time since March 2-11, 2003. They won just 17 games that season and won the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery following the season. The Cavs are 1-4 this season at the Q. They didn't lose their fourth game at home last season until Feb. 18.
He said it
"I just thought we stopped playing. That's two straight second halves. We have to figure out what's going on in the second half. We have to come out with a lot more energy than we did tonight." -- coach Byron Scott
* Leon Powe had nine points in 21 minutes, both season highs. Powe did well to get up and down the floor in tonight's fast-paced game and may have earned himself another look if Varejao remains sidelined.
* Danny Granger's 34 points mark the fifth time in his career he has surpassed 30 points against the Cavaliers.
* Antawn Jamison was fantastic again, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds. In three games since returning from a knee injury, Jamison has averaged 16 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 53 percent in 25.7 minutes.
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