Notes, quotes and observations after the Cavaliers lost their ninth consecutive game, 133-98 to the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
1. With 8:18 remaining in the third quarter, Cavs coach Larry Drew yanked four of his starters. Only Larry Nance Jr. was spared, but only because Drew had no other choice.
2. “Frankly I had seen enough at that point. I was just a little upset. I couldn’t take all five out and put five new ones in there, I only had four guys on the bench,” Drew said.
3. Injury issues kept Drew from making the wholesale statement he wanted, but the message he sent may have been just the beginning. After the Cavs suffered their worst loss of the season, Drew said he will consider changes to the starting lineup before they host the Pacers on Tuesday.
4. Drew said guard Jordan Clarkson is a candidate, along with forward Jalen Jones.
5. “Sure, he’s a candidate. The way he played, the way he shot the basketball, he got to the basket,” Drew said of Clarkson. “Jalen Jones could be a candidate as well. The one thing I really respect about that kid is that he plays hard. I don’t care what the score is, he gets in the game and lays it on the line. We just need more people playing like that, playing with that type of energy, that type of intensity and playing that hard every possession.”
6. Clarkson’s 16.9 average tops the active Cavs. Acquired from the Lakers on Feb. 8, Clarkson has led the Cavs in scoring 17 times, including Saturday, when he scored 15 of the Cavs’ 17 points over the end of the first and the start of the second quarters and finished with 23. Going into the night, his average ranked third in the league among bench players.
7. Clarkson said nothing would change for him if he’s moved into the lineup.
8. “Shoot, nothing,” Clarkson said. “I can make plays. I can score the ball. Give it to you on the defensive end. That’s what you’re going to get from me.”
9. Jones had hoped to play in Europe after being waived by the Mavericks on Oct. 8. Then the injury-ravaged Cavs signed the Texas A&M product to a two-way contract on Dec. 2.
10. “My game is just about playing hard. Just try to give all the effort I have, try to play every game like it’s my last,” Jones said.
11. Clarkson could replace Alec Burks, while Jones might slide into Cedi Osman’s spot. It seems unlikely that general manager Koby Altman would give Drew the go-ahead to yank point guard Collin Sexton, the eighth overall pick.
12. Because of injuries and trades, the Cavs have already used 17 different lineups, but this would be the first change to prove a point. On Tuesday, the Cavs could still be without guard Rodney Hood (who has started 34 games) after his sore left Achilles flared up on Friday, and backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, who has missed the past two games with a left foot sprain.
13. In any case, the Sexton-Burks-Osman-Nance-Tristan Thompson lineup is in jeopardy.
14. “That lineup is not a very energized lineup right now. They show flashes of it, but they can’t sustain it,” Drew said.
15. “Once again in that third quarter they came out flat. Why they came out flat, I don’t know. They did not play with a sense of urgency. I thought their movement was very lethargic, therefore we were not able to get in any type of offensive rhythm.”
16. Thompson doesn’t blame Drew for experimenting. After Tuesday's contest, the Cavs embark on a six-game, 11-night trip.
17. “At the end of the day, you lose by 40 two games in a row, you might as well make a change and switch things up,” Thompson said. “It’s worth a shot. You gotta try somethin’ to change the flow and the energy of the game.”
18. The Cavs lost by 35 points to the Pelicans and by 26 to the Jazz on Friday, but to Thompson it surely feels like 40. He’s played just three games after missing 10 with a sprained left foot.
19. Drew isn’t sure changes will bring the desired results. He’s been stymied without guard David Nwaba, who missed nine games in November and December with a sprained right knee and sat out his sixth consecutive game Saturday with a sprained left ankle.
20. The Cavs are 3-3 with Nwaba in the lineup, the only player on the roster with a .500 or better record. In any other year those three victories would be signature wins, since they came against playoff teams Indiana, Philadelphia and Houston.
21. “It may not be (the answer),” Drew said. “In this type situation you have to search until you can find it. I thought back when David Nwaba was healthy all of a sudden we inserted him into the lineup and we started getting some positive results just in our chemistry, the way we were doing things. Then he got hurt and we had to change things back.
22. “I don’t know if changing the lineup will do it. We can’t continue to go at this rate. I refuse to. I think it’s important that these guys understand that one, it’s just not acceptable and two, I’m not going to accept it and let this continue at this pace. I’ve got to do something different to see if we can get some positive results.”
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.