INDEPENDENCE: The news hasn’t been particularly good for the Cavaliers lately and it doesn’t appear to be improving anytime soon.
They’ve now suffered their two worst losses of the season — for far different reasons — in a 72-hour window, Dion Waiters appears closer to the operating room than a basketball court and while Kyrie Irving enjoyed a 21st birthday party over the weekend, there is still no timetable for his return.
Players were in a jovial mood following practice Sunday, flinging a football around their mammoth practice courts and enjoying what will be a four-day break between games.
“We had yesterday off. We had Friday off,” coach Byron Scott joked. “I think they’re OK.”
The Cavs, of course, lost by 38 points to the Houston Rockets on Friday in their worst performance of the season. Scott conceded Wednesday’s loss to the Miami Heat crushed the players, who didn’t have enough time to flush it before returning to the court. That was evident with Friday’s loss at Houston.
“I think that Miami game affected us in Houston. I didn’t think we had enough time to move on from that [Miami] game,” Scott said. “I talked to Boobie [Daniel Gibson] after the game and he said, ‘This one is going to hurt for a while.’ We got our worst game out of the way two nights later and now we have four days before our next game.”
The Cavs suffered a similar, crushing loss to the Heat in LeBron James’ first game back to Cleveland three years ago and it destroyed the rest of their season. That loss served as the springboard to a stretch of losing 36 of 37, including a miserable 26-game losing streak.
With 13 games left in a season ravaged by injuries, the goal now is to prevent that from happening again.
“I still think we’ve got a group of guys who can get it done,” Wayne Ellington said. “We’re not giving up. We’ll continue to fight. The last game we lost pretty bad and we’re all really disappointed in ourselves. That’s not something we plan to see at all the rest of the season.”
The Cavs may not see Waiters the rest of the season, either. The initial plan was to shut him down for a week to see if the loose cartilage in his knee could work itself out of the knee joint in an attempt to avoid surgery.
While Waiters was on the court shooting around following practice on Sunday, Scott doesn’t believe he is close to returning. And with only three weeks left in the season, time is starting to run out.
Scott watched as team physical therapist George Sibel worked on Waiters’ knee Sunday morning.
“I don’t think he’s even close. I’m just going by what I’ve seen,” Scott said. “Every time [Sibel] touched it this morning, [Waiters] seemed to be making all these moves like it was hurting. Just from that, I don’t think it’s close.”
Still, Scott says he doesn’t have a predetermined date in his mind for Irving and Waiters to return in order to make it worthwhile. If Waiters’ loose cartilage needs to be removed with arthroscopic surgery, his season is over.
Irving, meanwhile, was shooting jumpers after practice last week and has now completed two weeks of a recovery initially expected to take three or four weeks.
Irving celebrated his 21st birthday Saturday, but Scott did not attend the party.
“What am I going to do at a party with a bunch of 20-year-olds?” Scott said. “I can’t stay up that late. I had a lot more fun watching the NCAA games [Saturday] night.”
Shaun Livingston was going to buy his teammate a gift, but changed his mind.
“I thought about it, then I saw him pull up in a new car,” Livingston said. “And I said, ‘What can I get him?’ ”
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.