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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Cavs: There's nothing to blow up

By Marla Published: January 12, 2011

After LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and owner Dan Gilbert fired off his scathing email that guaranteed the Cavs would win an NBA Championship "before the self-titled former King,'' I was among those who worried that Gilbert would try to field a competitive team in 2010-11.

My bad.

The prevailing thought among the media was that Gilbert needed to blow up the Cavs, which would mean trading players like Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao and hold onto that $14.5 million trade exception. Such moves would help the Cavs obtain the highest lottery pick possible, a pick to build the team around.

Reporters worried that Gilbert would struggle with the premise of starting over, especially with his ''guarantee'' floating around the Internet for eternity.

In the wake of Tuesday night's 112-57 loss to the L.A. Lakers at Staples Center, fans have good reason to ask 'What were you thinking?' In setting the franchise record for fewest points scored in a Cavs game, there appears to be nothing to blow up.

After his starters scored 23 points, coach Byron Scott said his team ''looked scared to death.'' Jamison said, ''This is by far rock bottom'' and "one of the most embarrassing moments I've been a part of as far as basketball.''

 It seems understandable that youngsters like Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels may have been intimidated at the sight of Jack Nicholson and Cameron Diaz sitting courtside. But it's not understandable for players like Williams (1 for 9 from the field) and Jamison (3 for 10) to get sucked into such thinking.

Williams and Jamison are supposed to the be Cavs' leaders now. They're supposed to keep their teammates loose in such an atmosphere. They're supposed to find the right things to tell their inexperienced teammates. But if there is any talk about pride and competitiveness -- and I presume there is -- I guess it falls on deaf ears when it comes from the mouths of role players.

At least that's what they appear to be today.

It's a good thing the Cavs don't need to blow things up because after Tuesday night's effort it would seem impossible to convince anyone there's anything of value on the roster.

The picture didn't seem so bleak Tuesday at this time, when I wrote in my column for Wednesday's Beacon Journal that Sunday's performance against Phoenix offered some hope. The youngsters played more freely against the Suns, their athleticism evident. In wake of the Lakers' third-largest margin of victory since they moved to Los Angeles, that premise seems foolish.

Perhaps the Cavs can get back to that style, although it's not likely for the final two games of this road trip, to Utah and Denver. I expect more wallowing in their misery until they return home because I see no one who will forcefully grab the reins and take control.

Scott can only do so much.

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