INDEPENDENCE: It took 195 games and 142 losses for Byron Scott to erupt. It finally happened Friday night after the Cavaliers’ dismal performance in an 18-point loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Scott closed the door to the locker room and held an impromptu meeting with the players and coaches. It’s the first time in his three years as coach of the Cavs that Scott held a team meeting with that type of tone immediately after a game. It’s also the same night Kyrie Irving said he was “disinterested” in the second and third quarters of the game.
“I was pretty upset,” Scott said Monday. “I said my piece, I let the coaches talk and Press [top assistant Paul Pressey] was the only one who really said anything.”
The root of the problem has been the Cavs’ inability to give the same effort regardless of opponent. They have fallen into a bad habit of playing terrific against the top teams in the league, then giving minimal effort against lesser opponents.
The Cavs are 9-21 against teams .500 or better and 4-13 against teams with a losing record. They lost to top teams like the Miami Heat, the Memphis Grizzlies and the New York Knicks on the road in the games’ final minutes.
It happened again over the weekend when they followed Friday’s embarrassing loss with a stunning victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Scott didn’t emerge from the locker room Friday night at the Palace until 27 minutes after the game ended. By league rule, coaches are supposed to be out within 10 minutes to talk to reporters. Whatever he said worked — at least for one night — given the sensational performance. Scott said he was more surprised by Friday’s loss than he was by Saturday’s victory over the defending Western Conference champion.
“I know we’re better than that,” Scott said Monday, referring to the game against the Pistons. “And I know that’s a team in Detroit that plays hard and they’re a physical basketball team. You scratch your head more on that game because our guys know that, too. Then we go out and lay an egg like that. That one is more mind-boggling than the way we came out against OKC. I knew just from fear of being embarrassed we were going to come out and compete.”
C.J. Miles, who played seven seasons with a perennial playoff contender with the Utah Jazz, said the biggest difference between the mindset of a playoff team and the Cavs’ is the ability to play hard every night.
“We’ve got to be willing to get on the floor and leave it all out there,” Miles said. “Energy should not be a problem. The guys with the heavy minutes, the oldest guy is 22-23 years old. Should never be a problem.”
After two days of practice, the Cavs get another chance to prove they can play hard against weaker opponents when the Charlotte Bobcats visit. The Bobcats are one of only two teams in the league with a worse record than the Cavs. They entered Monday’s game at Miami dragging a three-game losing streak and having lost six of their past seven.
“I think it’s the perfect game to see if we’re serious about what we want to do,” Miles said. “If we want to be good, we’ve got to play the same way we played against Oklahoma City.”
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.