By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
NEW ORLEANS: The last time the Cavaliers were in this position, they escaped with a victory when Kevin Love’s 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim. This time they weren’t so fortunate.
This time the Cavs watched helplessly as the New Orleans Pelicans fought back from a 12-point deficit in the final five minutes for a 104-100 victory, handing the Cavs another stinging road loss in a season full of them.
The Cavs moved the ball offensively, defended well and held the lead for most of the game. Mike Brown was upset with the 20 turnovers, the 19 offensive rebounds they gave the Pelicans and the 23 points allowed in transition, yet despite all of that the Cavs still led 93-81 on a 3-pointer from Earl Clark with 4:46 left.
Then the Pelicans made a couple of 3-pointers, the Cavs went cold offensively and ultimately staggered out of New Orleans Arena and on to San Antonio with their seventh loss in eight road games.
“it’s a tough loss, especially when you feel like you had control most of the game,” Brown said. “But it’s a growing, learning experience for a young group.”
The Cavs have had plenty of learning experiences through 13 games and relatively few reasons to celebrate. That seemed to finally be changing against the Pelicans when they took the lead early in the second quarter and held it until a tip-in from Anthony Davis tied the score 95-95 with 1:29 left.
After Clark’s 3-pointer gave the Cavs their biggest lead of the game, they went scoreless for nearly three minutes while the Pelicans started making 3-pointers.
“We got good looks, we were unable to score a basket,” said Jarrett Jack, who finished with 19 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. “It sucks to have to learn from a game or situation like that. Regardless of us not scoring baskets down the stretch, we didn’t play defense up to our capability. That’s probably the biggest thing that stings.”
A 3-pointer by Eric Gordon gave the Pelicans a 100-98 lead in the final minute, then Kyrie Irving had a chance to tie it, but his shot was blocked at the rim by Davis. There was a fair amount of contact at the rim, and Irving pleaded for a foul but didn’t get the call.
Watching it live, Brown thought Irving was fouled.
“But that’s not the reason we lost,” he said.
Irving had 22 points, five rebounds, three steals, two assists and four turnovers, but he seemed to take the loss particularly hard. He remained quiet at his locker for several minutes before turning around for postgame interviews, then remained alone at his locker while the rest of the players dressed and left.
“We kind of just beat ourselves,” Irving said. “Too many turnovers, too many offensive rebounds, too many fast-break points they took advantage of. That was the story of the game. We gave ourselves a chance, but on the road we need a better focus level — all of us.”
Asked if he was fouled on the drive to the basket, Irving said, “It doesn’t matter now. We lost the game. It could’ve gone either way.”
With C.J. Miles back in Cleveland nursing a calf injury, Brown elected to start undrafted rookie Matthew Dellavedova, a point guard, at shooting guard instead of Dion Waiters. Dellavedova battled foul trouble most of the game and was a non-factor in the game. Waiters was terrific in the first half with 14 points (12 in the second quarter).
He was held scoreless in the second half on just two shots.
Andrew Bynum started as usual, then returned late in the second quarter, marking the first time he has left a game and re-entered in the same half. He played only 18 minutes for the game, but it marked another small milestone in Bynum’s return and another is expected Saturday when he plays on both nights of a back-to-back for the first time this season when the Cavs play at the Spurs.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. 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.