CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers have lost a lot of games in a lot of different ways this season. A failed inbound pass in the final moments after rallying from 24 points behind can now be added to the list.
That failure with the Cavs trailing by three led to a 102-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Quicken Loans Arena on Monday afternoon.
The Cavs (15-26) trailed by as many as 24 points but put together a furious comeback in the second half, drawing to within a single possession of the Mavericks (25-18) in the fourth quarter.
Following two missed free throws by Monta Ellis that left the door open for a game-tying 3-pointer, the Cavs took a timeout and had the opportunity to inbound the ball on the Mavs’ side of the court with 2.8 seconds to go, trailing 100-97.
But they never got the chance. Jarrett Jack, who was chosen to inbound the ball over the taller Luol Deng, couldn’t find anyone with the 6-foot-10 Brandan Wright jumping up and down near the sideline, and the Cavs were called for a five-second violation.
Ellis was then fouled and made two free throws, and the game was over.
Irving out of sight
Coach Mike Brown said after the game the play was supposed to go to Kyrie Irving on the weak side of the floor. Brown said Irving was “wide open,” but Jack never saw him.
“If you go back and watch the tape, Kyrie was wide open,” he said. “We did a great job executing it. I don’t know if we’ve ever been that wide open before at the end of games in a situation like that. Just couldn’t see him.”
Brown added that he chose Jack to inbound the ball over Deng because he trusted Jack and wanted Deng’s shooting ability on the floor.
“We had no problem with Jack inbounding the ball. He’s very, very reliable. He’s a heady veteran,” Brown said. “Luol was involved with the screening situation. If they screwed that up ... maybe now Luol pops and he’s able to knock down a 3.”
Jack didn’t speak to reporters after the game. Irving wouldn’t say if he thought he was open, choosing to place the blame on the team as a whole.
“It was going to be a tough pass regardless,” he said. “It’s a crucial play, crucial turnover. We all turn the ball over. Whether I was open or not, it doesn’t really matter. Just gotta move onto the next thing and learn what we can from it.”
Irving also was grumbling about a couple of his missed defensive assignments in the first half. In the first half, the Mavs outshot the Cavs by 20 percent (54-34) and led 59-37.
It was Irving, then, who got hot and ignited the Cavs. He took over in the third quarter, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and at one point slicing the Mavs’ lead to 75-65.
Irving’s momentum was halted in the fourth quarter.
He shot just 1-of-8 from the floor in the final 12 minutes, but the Cavs continued to chip away at the Mavs’ lead thanks to Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson, who combined for eight offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.
With 3:25 remaining, Deng, playing in his first home game as a Cavalier, nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Cavs’ deficit to 91-89. Irving then missed two jumpers on the same possession, and the Cavs scrambled the rest of the game before getting their final chance in the final seconds.
Irving finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-27 shooting to go along with nine assists. Varejao had 18 points and 21 rebounds, making it the fifth 20-rebound game of his career.
Thompson had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Deng had 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting.