Independence: The last time the Cavaliers played the Sacramento Kings they got beat with an ugly stick.
There was nothing pretty about a 44-point loss that marred a West Coast road trip in which the Cavs still went 3-2. That loss remains the sixth worst in franchise history and was the worst loss by an NBA team this season until the Los Angeles Clippers pounded the Philadelphia 76ers by 45 on Sunday.
In other words, it was unforgettable, but not in a good way. The Cavs will get another chance at the Kings tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I haven’t talked to them,” coach Mike Brown said after Monday’s practice when asked about the embarrassing loss. “I may say something. I may not. If any of our guys don’t remember that … it’s a tough one. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Considering the Kings outscored the Cavs 94-48 in the game’s last three quarters, tough might be an understatement. It very well may have been the season’s low point.
“When we played Sacramento, we definitely had a very bad game,” forward Luol Deng said.
The Cavs aren’t necessarily looking for revenge, but Deng said the beating they endured remains with them.
“No, I think you remember, but I think right now, it’s about us,” Deng said.
Deng said the Cavs are enjoying some recent success as winners of two consecutive games, beating the Washington Wizards on Friday and the Memphis Grizzlies in a thrilling overtime game Sunday, both wins coming since General Manager Chris Grant was fired.
“We just played two good games. We got two good wins. We want to keep it rolling,” he said.
Brown agreed with Deng’s assessment relishing the win over the Grizzlies more than the one over the Wizards. He said the win against the Wizards represented the way they’ve played before with an extra stop and an extra made shot making a difference. The game against the Grizzlies was different.
“We executed our defense for close to 48 minutes,” Brown said. “It was hard for me to find clips where we didn’t play defensive plays right. [Sunday] night was the closest we put to a 48-minute game together, especially defensively, in the whole season. I was excited by our execution of defense [Sunday] night. It was pretty good most of the game. I don’t think there’s been another game where we’ve been better in that area.”
They will get a chance to see if they can keep things rolling against the Kings, who come in as losers of two consecutive games and a 2-8 record in their past 10 despite averaging 101.2 points per game.
“They’re a team that can score,” Deng said. “They’re playing well. They can come in and have a great night. We just have to do a good job and do what we did the last two games.”
Brown also said guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters could be figuring things out when it comes to chemistry on the court.
“They’re two young guys. It’s Dion’s second year. It’s Kyrie’s third year. Kyrie was hurt a lot his first two years,” Brown said. “They’re young guys trying to figure out the right way to play themselves no matter who else is out on the floor and they’re getting better at that. And they’re getting better at learning how to play with each other.”
The backcourt duo played significant time together in the win against the Grizzlies and combined for 46 points in 78 minutes.
Center Anderson Varejao sat out Monday’s practice after undergoing an MRI — which was negative — on his back. He spent the time getting treatment. Varejao was hobbled during the overtime period against the Grizzlies but his ability to answer the bell for the next game impresses Deng.
“He’s a little banged up,” Deng said. “Since I’ve been here, there have been days I’ve seen Andy and thought there was going to be no way he can play and he would just come out and have a monster, huge game for you. He just knows how to play one way.”
C.J. Miles didn’t practice either and had his right foot X-rayed after reporting some soreness. The X-rays were negative.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.