CLEVELAND: Byron Scott has said for days he was interested to see how the Cavaliers would respond to a little adversity on this upcoming road trip. The adversity started before they even boarded the plane.
The Cavs were pounded Friday night by the Chicago Bulls 115-86 in a game that was over almost before it started. The Bulls shot 74 percent in the first quarter, forced the Cavs into nine turnovers (four by Kyrie Irving) and led 32-16 after the first quarter. They led 7-0 before the Cavs could even get their first shot off, which has to be the equivalent to having the opening kickoff returned for a touchdown.
“That’s what you call a good, old-fashioned butt whooping,” Scott said. “Obviously as a young team, we still have a lot to learn. You have to come ready to play from the get-go. I don’t think we matched their intensity from the start of the game till the end of the game.”
Like it or not, the Cavs are used to getting pounded by the Bulls. They’ve now dropped eight consecutive games in the series and the three losses last year were by an average of 30.7 points.
The Bulls were playing without Derrick Rose, who is still recovering from a gruesome knee injury suffered last year in the playoffs. They certainly didn’t need him to beat the Cavs, who shot 36 percent through three quarters and trailed by as many as 31 in the fourth quarter.
“We just started too late,” Irving said. “We didn’t match their physicality. We make no excuses in this locker room.”
Irving had 15 points, four assists and the four turnovers while dealing with constant double teams. Scott has told him he needs to come to expect it after winning the Rookie of the Year award and entering his second season as the clear focal point of the Cavs’ offense, but it will still be an adjustment period for him.
“Every time I touched the ball, they loaded up on me,” he said.
Anderson Varejao had 12 points and five rebounds, and Alonzo Gee had 12 points. C.J. Miles had eight points off the bench on 3-of-11 shooting and is 4-of-16 in two games with the Cavaliers.
“Their defense has always been good, and our offense was bad,” Scott said. “We didn’t move the ball the way we’re capable of moving the ball. If we hold the ball, their defense is great. I thought we helped their defense more than anything.”
Richard Hamilton had 19 points for the Bulls, including 14 in an impressive third quarter after the game was already decided. Carlos Boozer had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Rookie Dion Waiters had seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, but his low point of the night came after the game when he was forced to leave the Cavs’ locker room carrying a Barbie backpack sprinkled with glitter. Fellow rookie Tyler Zeller was given a Dora the Explorer backpack, both courtesy of Daniel Gibson.
Gibson bought the backpacks this week and expects the rookies to have it with them at all times on this road trip and beyond — until he tells them to stop.
This road trip won’t be easy, and it has nothing to do with pink backpacks. The Cavs will face sure playoff teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Brooklyn Nets, along with viable playoff contenders in the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks.
Beginning this cross-country journey with a 29-point blowout loss at home is certainly not the way to start. Now Scott is curious to see how his young players respond.
“Losing is frustrating, period,” Scott said. “It’ll be interesting to see how we react to certain situations. We’ll see. I’ve got a lot of faith in our guys.”
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.