AUBURN HILLS, MICH.: The coach is angry and says this team is lackadaisical and not tough enough. The star player called the team soft for at least the third time in a month, then said he was disinterested and ticked off.
If there is a moment to sound the alarm on a 13-34 basketball team, this might be it.
The Cavs have regressed since winning three in a row for the first time this season, the latest evidence a 117-99 blasting at the hands of an equally bad Detroit Pistons team. While the coach and star player are sounding off, the Oklahoma City Thunder were asleep in Cleveland, awaiting their arrival for tonight’s game.
It could get worse before it gets better.
“I take full responsibility for my lackluster play and it trickled down to everybody else. It just can’t happen. It’ll never happen again, I guarantee that,” Kyrie Irving said after he scored 14 points, shot 4-of-10 and was thoroughly outplayed by the Pistons’ Brandon Knight. “My energy wasn’t there. It was there in the first quarter, then the second and third, I was disinterested. That just can’t happen.”
Irving said the flow of the game “[ticked] me off” and clearly took him out of the proper mindset.
“Different plays in the game were mind-boggling for me,” Irving said. “Just specific plays on the defensive and offensive end just kind of [ticked] me off.”
Asked if he was upset at all with the officiating, Irving said no. Asked if his teammates angered him, Irving avoided the question.
“Just [plays] throughout the game,” he said.
Draw your own conclusions.
Cavs coach Byron Scott wasn’t any happier than Irving. Speaking before Irving did, Scott said he walked into the locker room after the game and asked the players if they were content with being 13-34.
“If they are content, then obviously we’ve got to make changes,” Scott said. “I don’t see how in the world you can be fat and happy right now. Right now, there’s no way in the world we should be feeling that way.”
The Pistons shot 54 percent, crushed the Cavs in the lane 62-42 and totaled 93 points in the final three quarters. Scott was so disgusted with the play of his starters, he left them on the bench for the fourth quarter while the reserves rallied the Cavs to within nine with 4:41 left.
“I just think they’re tougher than us,” Scott said. “Simple as that.”
The Pistons aren’t much better record-wise than the Cavs and entered shooting 44 percent as a team, but they dismantled the Cavs in the paint and all over the floor.
Knight has always played well against Irving. They were the first two point guards taken in the 2011 draft and Knight began the night averaging 23.5 points and six assists in two games this season against the Cavs. Then he had 20 points, 10 assists and six rebounds on Friday. He picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter, but Pistons coach Lawrence Frank stuck with him and was rewarded handsomely.
The only Cavs starter who played well was Tristan Thompson, who had 19 points and nine rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting. The rest of the Cavs’ starters were a combined 8-of-29.
Mo Speights had 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench and Wayne Ellington added 13 points. When the Cavs pulled within nine, they started fouling Charlie Villanueva, a 29 percent foul shooter, on every possession. Although Villanueva was splitting his attempts, the Cavs couldn’t convert on the offensive end and the Pistons built the lead back to 16.
“We just came out soft,” Irving said.
“That was it. Throughout the whole entire game. The energy level never picked up.”
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.