CHARLOTTE, N.C.: Mike Brown is concerned. It has only been two games, but the Cavaliers have failed to start either with any intensity or defensive effort. They overcame a poor first seven minutes in the opener Wednesday but failed to recover Friday in a 90-84 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Cavs allowed the Bobcats to score 30 points and shoot 57 percent in the first quarter, the type of numbers that make a defensive-minded coach like Brown rant for two minutes and 10 seconds after the game before he was even asked a question.
“Our mental approach from the beginning has to be better,” Brown said. “Right now it’s not good, especially at the start of the game. And we’re getting too many ‘my bads.’ When you get three ‘my bads’ from each individual, it adds up. You can say, ‘my bad,’ but we want to be a championship-level team. We can’t have 15 ‘my bads’ in the first half.”
Compounding the slow starts is the fact it was a recurring theme throughout last season under Byron Scott. Two games is hardly enough of a sample size to sound any panic alarms, but it’s clear at this point there are still lingering bad habits the Cavaliers need to break.
Despite the poor start, they still had a chance to win late. Kemba Walker’s 3-pointer with 58.3 seconds left broke an 84-84 tie and essentially was the game-winning basket. The Cavs had a chance to tie, but Jarrett Jack shot an air ball on a 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left and the Bobcats made foul shots to seal the win.
C.J. Miles scored 22 points off the bench, Tristan Thompson had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Kyrie Irving had 16 points and seven assists, but Irving banged the funny bone in his elbow in the third quarter and battled numbness the rest of the night.
“I lost feeling in my arm for the majority of the end of the game,” Irving said. “Those shots I’d normally take at the end of the game were just short. They had no chance of going in. They didn’t feel good, but no excuse. We still had a chance to win the game and we didn’t. But I’ll be all right.”
Irving left the game with 3:24 left in the third quarter and didn’t return until 6:59 left in the game. It seemed like an extended rest at a critical part of the game, but Irving said it wasn’t because of his elbow and had more to do with the rhythm of the unit that was on the floor.
The Cavs were much better defensively in the second half, holding the Bobcats to 36 points and 39 percent shooting, but the Cavs shot just 38 percent for the game and struggled offensively.
They received a combined two points from their starting shooting guard and small forward. Dion Waiters was benched 2½ minutes into the third quarter and did not return, finishing with two points (1-of-5 shooting), no rebounds and no assists. Earl Clark missed all four of his attempts and grabbed three rebounds.
Andrew Bynum played 10 minutes off the bench and had five points and three rebounds. He is not expected to play tonight when the Cavs travel to the Indiana Pacers for the second game of a back to back.
“We just have to come out with a different intensity,” Irving said. “With our first group, we’re still trying to find each other’s rhythm. We have guys who can make plays, so we have to figure out our rhythm in the first quarter.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.