Cavs can't dig themselves out of their hole

Chris Beaven

Call it energy or intensity, or having passion or a sense of urgency. Whatever word or phrase you choose, the Cavs lack it often these days.

Just ask anyone who was at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday evening. An announced sellout of 20,562 watched the Cavs come out with little energy against the NBA’s most free-wheeling outfit. The result was predictable after just a few minutes, as the Warriors ran away to a 105-96 win.

Don’t be fooled by the final score. Golden State led by 16 after one quarter and by 28 late in the third, as the Cavs (12-16) didn’t show enough fight until it was too late.

“I just call it competing better than what we did,” Cavs Head Coach Mike Brown said. “We have to play with a sense of urgency on both ends of the floor and right now, at times, especially defensively, we’re kind of going through the motions.”

All-Star LeBron James, who almost always talks with media before and after games, did not talk once this rout ended.

But there’s not much any of the Cavs can say right now. After several minutes of answering questions about what’s wrong with the Cavs, good-natured forward Drew Gooden summed up all of their feelings: “I’m frustrated.”

Somewhere in the middle of a first-quarter barrage of baskets by the Warriors, Brown looked for the Cavaliers to get tougher defensively. That didn’t happen, as Golden State hit 17 of its first 21 shots.

“We have to make our opponent feel us,” Brown said of contesting shots.

The Warriors (16-12) shot 52.1 percent from the floor overall and maintained a double-digit lead from 3:45 of the first quarter until one-tenth of a second remained.

They did this on the second night of back-to-back games, having lost a tight one Saturday at New Jersey. The Cavs had been off since a win Thursday over the Lakers.

“The first and third quarters we came out with no energy at all, and they took advantage of it,” Brown said.

The Cavs had no answers for forward Stephen Jackson and point guard Baron Davis, who ripped them for 29 and 27 points, respectively. They also had little success slowing down guard Monta Ellis (19) and forward Al Harrington (16).

James led the Cavs with 25 points, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 20.

Davis, Ellis and Jackson put it on the floor and got to the rim when they wanted. The Warriors also spaced the floor well, and because they were able to get penetration, they had open shooters everywhere.

The Warriors hit 12 of their first 14 shots, including all five of their 3-pointers. They turned three other field goals into 3-point plays. They led 38-22 after one quarter.

“Obviously, we dug ourselves a hole at the start of the game,” Brown said.

The Cavs stayed buried the rest of the way.

They got as close as 11 early in the third quarter, but the Warriors put their foot on the pedal one more time with an assortment of drives and jump shots. Golden State led by 28 late in the quarter, as the Cavs made just three of their first 15 shots in the half.

The Cavs did make a fourth-quarter charge, but it wasn’t until garbage time in the final minutes that they got closer than 14.

“I truly believe our guys can do a better job than what we showed tonight,” Brown said.

Point guard Daniel Gibson said the team has to look within to fix things.

“We all want to win games,” Gibson said. “It’s hard to say that (there’s a lack of intensity) but once you look up at the score, and you’re down 15, 16 points, you start realize that maybe you’re not playing as hard as you can. And you need to pick it up.”

Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail