CLEVELAND: Before, during and after Sunday’s 108-104 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors, Mike Brown’s message to his players was all about pace. As in, the Cavs need to pick it up.
He was referring to the pace of the game, but it fits in the big picture, too.
The Cavs are 10-20 today, just three games better than this point last season, when winning was secondary to lottery positioning. Now a team that is playing to win games isn’t doing a very good job of it.
“We feel like we’re close,” Brown said. “We feel like we’re right there.”
The Cavs lost to the Warriors because they missed their last six shots in overtime and failed to score over the final 2:56. Kyrie Irving tied the game at the end of regulation with a 3-pointer, but went scoreless in the overtime session after missing all three of his shots.
The Warriors are the hottest team in the league, owners of a five-game winning streak, but the Cavs led by 17 late in the second quarter before losing half of it in the final 54 seconds of the half.
They have matched their longest losing streak of the season at five games and have now lost seven of their last eight. Their last three losses, however, have been by a total of nine points.
“Just close out the game better,” Irving said. “That’s what it boils down to.”
The Cavs were terrific in the first half Sunday, scoring 64 points to match their high in a half this season while shooting 52 percent. Add in the 34 points they scored in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss at Boston and they scored 98 points in three consecutive quarters.
But they shot 28 percent in the fourth quarter and overtime session (7-of-25). Jarrett Jack’s jumper to begin overtime was their final basket.
Brown told his players at the pre-game walkthrough to focus on the pass, pace and competing.
“At the end of games, we forget about our pace and we slow down a little too much,” Brown said. “I feel like we’re going to start winning some of these games.”
Irving had 27 points and nine assists, Tristan Thompson had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Anderson Varejao had 8 points and 12 rebounds in his second start since replacing Andrew Bynum. Jack had 12 points off the bench against his old team.
Steph Curry had 29 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, but scored just 5 points in the second half on 2-for-12 shooting. But he made the big shot on a long jumper with 13.5 seconds left in overtime to put the Warriors up four. The Cavs took a pair of timeouts, but couldn’t even get the ball inbounded. Andre Iguodala stole Jack’s inbounds pass with 7.1 seconds left and the Warriors ran out the clock.
“Thank God for the green light,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said, referring to Curry’s final shot. “He’s a guy we believe in. We’re not going to tell him to stop shooting. The guy’s having an all-time great year for himself and he’s put himself in a class of elite players.”
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.