Notes, quotes and observations after the Cavaliers lost their eighth consecutive game, falling 117-91 to the Utah Jazz Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
1. The Cavs’ lack of energy in the second half, when they were outscored by the Jazz 69-42, prompted a post-game meeting that saw coach Larry Drew arrive in the interview room about 30 minutes after the final horn.
2. It wasn’t just this performance that was the issue. During the losing streak, the Cavs have been outscored 488-389 in the second half, an average of 12.4 points. They’ve won only one second half in those eight games, beating Memphis by five in an eight-point defeat on Dec. 26.
3. Opponents are averaging 61 points and shooting 52.4 percent in the final two quarters, the Cavs 48.6 points and 42.1 percent. The Cavs’ defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) during the streak is 129.4.
4. The issue is snowballing as the Cavs have lost three of their last four by margins of 24, 25 and 26 points, the only blip a 3-point setback at Atlanta on Dec. 29.
5. “We can go back a few games and see where we’ve actually played some good halves, some very competitive halves, then we come out in the second half and we just completely lay an egg,” Drew said. “I’ve got to get my finger on it.
6. “When you look back at a few of our games, it’s such a disparity in the energy at the start of a game and at the start of a third quarter. And it’s glaring.”
7. Asked if the players were willing to speak up, Drew said, “Every last one of ‘em,” but rookie point guard Collin Sexton admitted he did not say anything.
8. While he called the tone of the meeting “somber,” Drew said he got a sense that the players needed to get some of the issues off their chests.
9. “Most definitely,” Drew said. “I hear ‘em loud and I hear ‘em clear and I totally agree with a lot of the things that they were saying. Sometimes those type meetings have to take place, especially when you’re in a slump. But I’m glad they were very open and were not afraid to step on any toes.”
10. Larry Nance Jr. didn’t hold back on his assessment of what is wrong, while adding he believes the problems are correctable.
11. “Extremely,” Nance said. “No. 1 is effort. Our first half is great and it’s been great. We’ve been hanging in with a lot of really good teams. But second half we come out and lay an egg. I think it’s a lack of execution and heart.
12. “Nobody got broken down. There was not a single-out or anything. There was no pointing fingers. It’s a we, us, as a group mentality. As a group, we, us, have to get better at a lot of different things.”
13. Nance said he’s not worried about the Cavs’ offense, he believes the issue lies on defense.
14. “It’s not hanging heads,” Nance said. “If my man scores or if you get beat, it’s about, ‘My bad. That’s not happening again.’ It’s about manning up, accountability and doing your job.”
15. Tristan Thompson called the meeting constructive and both he and Nance said it never got heated.
16. “I think guys were respectable and just gave their ideas and we were adults about it,” Thompson said. “It’s fine to talk about stuff behind closed doors and air stuff out. At the end of the day we spend more time with each other than our own family. So if we’re a family, then we gotta speak up.”
17. Thompson believes his teammates are motivated to score, but they’re not willing to sacrifice their bodies on defense.
18. “I think offensively everyone wants to go out there and do their thing,” Thompson said. “I think defensively we gotta fly around. At the end of the day we don’t have the biggest guards, we don’t have the biggest bigs. In order for us to take a stand defensively, we gotta be grimy, we gotta be nasty, we gotta fly around like a chicken with our head cut off and we didn’t do that in the second half.”
19. Thompson said the problem is not the plan being drawn up by assistant coach Mike Longabardi, who handles the defense.
20. “I think it’s a desire to want to defend. I think it’s a desire to want to care,” Thompson said. “I think Longo does a good job with the principles and the schemes because they work. If you do it the right way, you put teams in tough situations, you have to care and want to do it for 48 minutes, not one half.”
21. Thompson is resigned to the fact that the Cavs are rebuilding, destined for a lottery pick. But he still wants more effort.
22. “If you played hard and laid it on the line and we have energy and fight and everyone can see that, I think everyone can live better,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day we’re not the team with the most firepower. We know this. For us to be in ball games or win a ball game, we’ve got to play damn near a perfect game. If we can compete every night and leave it out there, live with the results, sleep better at night, and win your fair share of games.”
23. Nance hopes the conversation leads to a better performance in Saturday night’s home game against the Pelicans.
24. “All you can hope is that guys listen,” Nance said. “We’re not learning from our losses … we’re just not processing what’s going wrong. We needed to sit down and talk about it and have different guys voices be heard and opinions be heard. I think the right guys spoke up.”
25. Asked if he offered solutions, Nance said, “I can fix what I’m doing. I can play the pick and rolls better and start playing the game to get my hands on more deflections and see if I can confuse the guard coming off the pick and rolls. I can block my man out more. I can protect the rim better. There’s a lot that I can do better. I hope everybody goes home, looks themselves in the mirror and asks themselves and thinks of what they can do better to bring it tomorrow.
26. “I can control one guy. I will be ready.”
27. Sexton said he’d been part of meetings like this before.
28. “We used to have those all the time at Alabama and in high school, so that ain’t nothin’,” he said.
29. While he didn’t speak, Sexton understands the urgency of the Cavs’ situation. Their 8-31 record is the worst in the league. Before this year they’d seem bound for the No. 1 overall pick, but thanks to new league rules the three worst teams have a 14 percent chance of getting the top choice in the draft lottery.
30. “We’ve just got to be honest with each other, don’t sugarcoat anything. We’ve just got to make improvements, we can’t go back in the wrong direction,” Sexton said. “We’ve got to go forward. We don’t want to leave the season just winning a few games. We’ve got to try and pick it up and win some more.”
31. Sexton said he had no plan to celebrate his 20th birthday. He was somewhat dissed by the Cavs’ scoreboard crew, which wished center Ante Zizic (who turned 22) a happy birthday before him.
32. “Chill, relax because we’ve got another one tomorrow,” Sexton said of what was ahead the rest of the night.
33. Another recognized on the Humungotron was ex-Cavs guard Kyle Korver, traded to the Jazz on Nov. 29. He waved in responses to the welcome back message, which drew cheers from the crowd.
34. “I have good relationships with the people here,” Korver said. “It’s always special to come back the first time, see familiar faces.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.