CLEVELAND: Final thoughts from the Cavs' 95-85 loss to the Chicago Bulls...
* I apologized in advance to Kevin Jones for snapping this picture of him, but I couldn't resist. Poor kid has been in the NBA less than 48 hours and he's been hit with a pink backpack, a stroller and a baby doll compliments of his head coach.
* Jones didn't get in the game tonight, but his stroller-pushing departure was the highlight of the night. Well, that and Byron Scott answering a reporter's phone (which was doubling as a tape recorder at the time) and carrying on a conversation near the end of his pregame press conference. You can't make this stuff up.
* The Cavs were again hammered in the first quarter Wednesday, then actually outplayed the Bulls the rest of the night. But it was too late. The Cavs trailed 27-11 after the first quarter and it was simply too much damage to undo.
* That's how it works in the NBA. Good teams typically play hard for as long as they need, then coast the rest of the night against inferior opponents. Every time the Cavs would get within five or seven or nine, the Bulls would get a couple of defensive stops, come up with a basket or two and then reset the cruise control.
* Scott was being honest when he said the Cavs have to play a "damn near perfect game" just to compete right now. Losing Kyrie Irving was obviously a huge blow, but they've actually played fairly well and competed in some tough games against elite teams despite his absence. But the dual loss of Irving and Dion Waiters is simply too much to overcome.
* The Cavs are 4-15. They own the second-worst record in the league and the season isn't even a quarter of the way old. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. I tend to believe this team will make a little bit of a run when they get healthy. They've played too hard, and they've been too competitive in games without their stars, to think anything else. The last two seasons, the Cavs fell apart after fairly decent starts. This season could be the exact opposite, which will only irritate fans who have given up by then and simply want the best lottery odds possible.
* Jeremy Pargo said it wasn't intentional when he hit Marco Belinelli in the face with the ball. He said he was falling out of bounds and wasn't sure if he got the foul call or not. "I was fouled, pushed in the back, but I wasn’t sure if they were calling the foul or not and I didn’t want to land out of bounds with the ball,” Pargo said. “I threw the ball trying to save it. I didn’t mean to hit the man in the face.” Pargo was hit with a technical and Luol Deng seemed to take exception as the two chatted after the play. But Pargo is from Chicago and said he has a prior relationship with a few of the Bulls players, including Deng. The two shook hands on the court after the game and had a congenial chat. No bad blood, no real incident.
* Donald Sloan had another good night, finishing with a team-high 14 points. Scott has made no indication he'll make a change at point guard, but Pargo is cooling offensively after a hot start replacing Irving. Pargo is 10 of 37 in his last three games, but he also has 20 assists and just seven turnovers during that time. Sloan didn't really do anything to lose his spot, Scott just likes what Pargo does defensively a little better. The Cavs, however, need to find offense from somewhere as long as Waiters and Irving are out. Sloan, surprisingly, is becoming one of their best options.
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