CLEVELAND: The most fire the Cavaliers displayed in another disheartening 99-89 loss to the Indiana Pacers came from Daniel Gibson early in the fourth quarter, when he told the Pacers’ Tyler Hansbrough to shut up and go away.
Unfortunately, the Cavs were far too quiet the rest of the game and disappeared in the second half to lose their 17th in a row within the Central Division.
The Pacers exploded for 33 points in the third quarter, including 26 in the paint, and the Cavs never recovered. They lost their sixth in a row, equaling their longest losing skid of the season.
“I’m not running out of ideas yet, but I’m getting close,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “As patient as I am, one thing I’m getting more than ever is frustrated.”
Kyrie Irving had 17 points and five assists but turned it over six times and shot just 5-of-16. Even Scott believed Irving wasn’t completely engaged at the start of the game. Irving is getting more demonstrative in his frustrations, yelling at teammates on the court and throwing his arms in the air in disgust after errors on both offense and defense.
“Everybody is frustrated. Everybody has a right to be,” Irving said. “It’s going to come from within from all of us. Stop making excuses because we’re young and go out there and play.”
The Pacers already led 65-55 when Paul George poked the ball away from rookie center Tyler Zeller on consecutive possessions in the third quarter. George stole an inbounds pass from Zeller, laid it in and was fouled. He missed the ensuing free throw, but tapped the rebound away from Zeller and dunked it as boos cascaded down Quicken Loans Arena.
“That was a game-changer right there,” Irving said. “We were just being sloppy with it.”
Tempers flared early in the fourth quarter, when Gibson and Hansbrough were assessed double technicals. The Cavs were within seven at 77-70 when Hansbrough began barking at Tristan Thompson in the sequel to a feud that began last week when Thompson caught Hansbrough’s brother, Ben, with an elbow to the head.
Tyler Hansbrough jumped in, and the two had to be separated. When Tyler Hansbrough began jawing again at Thompson on Friday, Gibson stepped in despite giving up 7 inches and 50 pounds in the duel.
“He’s always doing bull ... like that,” Gibson said. “He’s always egging guys on and walking up on them. I was like, ‘You gotta calm that [expletive] down before you get [expletive] up out here. You’ve really got to chill. I understand that you’re an energy guy, but chill man. [Thompson] is my little brother. Tristan just walked away like it was cool, but I wasn’t cool with it.”
Thompson said he didn’t even hear what Hansbrough was saying.
“It’s competition; it ain’t nothing personal,” Thompson said. “If that’s what gets his team going, by hooting and hollering, so be it. I don’t really pay attention to what he says. It doesn’t really faze me.”
Gibson was surprised he was whistled for a technical.
“He just be out there out of control,” Gibson said. “I told the ref, ‘How are you going to give me a double tech when he’s the one burning up on people and snatching the ball and screaming?’ Nobody was even saying nothing to him; what is he doing? That’s Hansbrough for you.”
Gerald Green was given a technical minutes later for taunting after a vicious dunk over Samardo Samuels that was so explosive, Pacers players were huddled together in the locker room watching the replay over and over.
All of that masked the Cavs’ defensive problems and offensive inefficiencies. They were outscored in the lane 52-36 and lost the game by 10. Scott has been so concerned with the way the Cavs have started third quarters flat lately that he made it a point to tell his assistants he wanted to end his halftime meetings early in order to give players more time to get out on the court and warm up. None of it really mattered.
Scott blamed the interior breakdowns in the third quarter on the weak-side defense.
“The weak-side defense was very unaware of what was going on,” he said. “We’ll continue to lose until we play together and both ends. Everybody has to be aware of what’s going on.”
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.