By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
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- NBA notebook — Nov. 23
- NBA roundup — Nov. 23
- Cavs notebook: Earl Clark’s numbers improve with shift back to natural position
- Marla Ridenour: ‘Come Home LeBron’ partnership embarks on mission to lure James back to Cavs
SAN ANTONIO: The Cavaliers entered the half Saturday night trailing the San Antonio Spurs by more points than they had scored. They needed three quarters to play equal to the Spurs’ remarkable first half.
In a season full of miserable losses, Saturday’s 126-96 pounding was the worst loss of the season, knocking out the 29-point pounding at Minnesota less than two weeks ago. The fact the Spurs, the league’s best team, won handily over the struggling Cavs wasn’t much of a surprise. Yet the extent of the mauling left the Cavs dragging home a three-game losing streak with the two-time defending champion Miami Heat up next on Wednesday. The beatings just keep coming.
“We got our behinds kicked. We didn’t do anything well,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “The only positive I think we got out of it is we got to see how to play basketball the right way.”
The Spurs do everything correctly that the Cavs do not. The defending Western Conference champs are terrific at finding the open shooter, passing quickly out of double teams and, most importantly, making open shots. The Spurs made 16 3-pointers, easily the most the Cavs have surrendered in a game this season, and shot 67 percent on 3s.
“They have a nice foundation. They have a nice culture in place,” Brown said. “It was definitely a good thing for our guys to see and to feel it because I know they felt it. Hopefully it lasts. Hopefully it has an imprint on them.”
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back for the first time this season, Andrew Bynum turned in his best performance with 16 points and six rebounds, while rookie Anthony Bennett finally played well during garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Bennett, who missed 32 of his first 37 shots as a pro, made 4-of-5 on Saturday and scored nine points while grabbing five rebounds. That was the extent of the good news for the Cavs, who watched the Spurs shoot 58 percent and remove all doubt in the second quarter when they outscored the Cavs 24-2 over a nearly eight-minute stretch.
Kyrie Irving had 15 points and four assists, Matthew Dellavedova had 14 points and Dion Waiters had 11 points off the bench for the Cavs.
The loss drops the Cavs to 4-10, tied with the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks for the most losses in the Eastern Conference. Only the Utah Jazz (1-13) have lost more games in the NBA. With such high expectations for this season, it begs the question whether this season has been more difficult than expected.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” Irving said. “Everybody put all these expectations on us and guys get kind of comfortable. But winning is hard to do in this league every single night. We have to realize that. Not only at home, but on the road it’s that much more important to have a focus level game to game.”
The Cavs will take Sunday off and hold two practices before LeBron James and the Heat visit Quicken Loans Arena.
“I only know one way: To keep coaching and keep teaching,” Brown said. “That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to stay at it. Hopefully we’ll continue to show improvement. We may take a hit or two like we did tonight. We took a step backwards tonight. That has happened to us before and our guys have bounced back. That’s what I expect the guys to do.”
Irving doesn’t have much of a relationship with former MVP Derrick Rose, but he was still upset to hear the Chicago Bulls star could miss the rest of this season after tearing the meniscus in his right knee.
“I’m definitely going to be praying for him and his family. As an athlete, I just hope he doesn’t lose his heart for the game, lose his passion for the game,” Irving said. “That’s what everybody’s worried about. It’s just terrible news.”
After further review
Cavs coach Mike Brown reviewed the film of Friday’s loss at the New Orleans Hornets and found several no-calls that should’ve been fouls, including on Kyrie Irving’s potential game-tying basket in the closing seconds.
One scout sitting courtside Friday night thought it was a foul and that Irving has earned those calls.
“You can say superstars get certain calls,” Brown said Saturday. “I’m not even talking about that. If a guy drives to the rim and gets hit, it’s a foul. Call it, especially at that point in the game.
“That’s not why we won or lost the game, but you run into a few calls down the stretch, it’s obvious calls that should’ve been made. It can impact the basketball game.”
Once the Cavs led by 12 Friday night, Irving took all of the team’s shots for about four minutes until Jarrett Jack put one up in the game’s final minute. Brown said he’s fine with Irving dominating the ball as long as he’s getting good looks.
“That’s what great players do for each team,” Brown said. “If that guy has a great look, take it. If he doesn’t, move the basketball.”
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.