By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: This wasn’t the homestand the Cavs had in mind. Not with coach Mike Brown talking about another “unacceptable” effort, not with an offense that went scoreless for 5½ minutes and a defense that allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to shoot 53 percent.
The Cavs were embarrassed on their home floor for the second time in three nights, falling to the Pelicans 100-89 in a game that wasn’t that close. The Pelicans led by 22 late in the third quarter and still held a 17-point lead with five minutes left.
The Cavs didn’t shoot well, didn’t defend at all and went staggering out of Quicken Loans Arena with a dreary 1-4 mark during the longest homestand of the season.
“What we’re doing out there is unacceptable,” Brown said.
The Cavs led 44-40 on a basket from Kyrie Irving with 5:25 left in the second quarter, but it was their last basket of the half. The Pelicans scored the final 16 points while the Cavs shot 0-for-9 and turned the ball over three times.
Brown was irritated that the Cavs showed more fire in an eight-minute team scrimmage during Monday’s practice than they showed during the game. He said there were close to three or four fights in Monday’s practice from guys being so physical, then they didn’t show any of it during the game.
“The competitive nature of our scrimmage was off the charts. I didn’t see one time [in Tuesday’s game] any of us get upset, hit somebody, show a little fire, especially defensively,” Brown said. “We’ve talked about this all year. We’ve got to compete for 48 minutes or close to it. We didn’t do it. Three or four of these games [on this homestand] we didn’t do it.”
As a result of that scrimmage, Anthony Bennett worked his way back into Brown’s rotation. With Anderson Varjeao missing the game with a knee injury, Bennett played a career-high 31 minutes. He set a career high with 15 points and tied a career high with eight rebounds. He took the place of Earl Clark, who Brown said was “dinged up,” but could’ve played. Instead, Clark didn’t get off the bench.
“That’s something I’m trying to work on,” Bennett said. “I’m trying not to look over my shoulder and worry about every mistake I make.”
Tyler Zeller, starting in place of the injured Varejao, had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Dion Waiters had 21 points off the bench and Kyrie Irving had 23 points and five assists.
Anthony Davis had 30 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks for the Pelicans, who were playing without All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday (stress fracture) and second-leading scorer Ryan Anderson (back). The Cavs scored five baskets in the second quarter. Davis had four blocks in the quarter.
The Cavs now depart on a three-game trip to the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. With the team’s play so erratic most of the season, Brown was asked if players are still listening to him.
“I believe so,” he said. “This has been our season. Play well, then we float, bounce back and play well again, then we float. This isn’t the first time this has happened to us during the course of the season.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. 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.