Cavaliers look to fix things at home
They appear to do it with mirrors some nights, winning NBA games with the magic of LeBron James and not much else.
But the mirror cracks once in a while for the Cavaliers, when they turn extra ugly. Two nights after some awful stretches of basketball in Atlanta, the Cavs return home to see if they can fix things.
They host the Charlotte Bobcats tonight at 7:30 and could be minus forward Anderson Varejao. He left Wednesday’s game with a left knee contusion and a strained left Achilles tendon. An MRI Thursday confirmed those injuries, and he is questionable tonight.
Seventeen turnovers and 36.4 percent shooting summarizes how well the Cavs played offensively Wednesday in falling back to .500 at 18-18.
“We played hard, but we didn’t play well enough to win,” James said after the Atlanta loss. “We made too many mistakes.”
Take away James’ 13-for-22 shooting and the Cavs shot 19 of 66 (28.7 percent). With that type of shooting, the Cavs quickly fell behind after a solid start.
Head Coach Mike Brown called it “one of the worst nights we’ve had in moving the ball.” The Cavs had 15 assists, but six came from James.
“I thought we took too many quick shots and it seems like a lot of times when we get up big early, we tend to relax and the other team comes out of a timeout and gets one or two quick plays and the next thing you know we’re in a dogfight,” Brown said. “That’s kind of what happened.”
The Cavs entered the final 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter with just 35 points and 14 field goals.
“At times we seemed disorganized on offense,” guard Larry Hughes said. “You can’t win games like that.”
With James, though, the Cavs have done it before. They erased a 20-point deficit to win Sunday in Toronto when he went for a franchise-record 24 points in the final quarter. And the fourth-quarter brilliance of James in Atlanta allowed the Cavs to erase a 21-point deficit and get within five before losing, 90-81. James scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth.
“My mindset is always the same, which is to try to make plays and help my team win,” James said.
But the Cavs need more than their superstar if they want to make a serious push to be more than a .500 team. They had won four straight and six of seven before the loss to Atlanta.
Strong play from the bench has helped compliment James and offset other deficiencies, such as routinely poor shooting. Daniel Gibson, Devin Brown, Varejao, and, recently, Damon Jones, have provided energy and a little bit of everything else.
Even the bench, though, had an off night in Atlanta. They provided energy and scored 28 points between them, but did it on 10-for-35 shooting. Gibson had a rare tough night, going 2-for-11.
After playing on back-to-back nights, the Cavs did not practice Thursday, but Mike Brown knows what he will be emphasizing during this morning’s shoot-around.
“We’re going to have to work on ball movement and execution,” he said, “to build upon the early leads.”
Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bobcats vs. Cavaliers
Where: Quicken Loans Arena
When: Tonight, 7:30
TV: FSN Ohio
Radio: WAKR-AM 1590, WTAM-AM 1100
Notable: The Cavs (18-18) had their four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday with a 90-81 loss in Atlanta. The Cavs have won six of eight overall. ... Cleveland is 28th in the league in shooting at 42.9 percent. Take away the 48 percent shooting of the league’s leading scorer, LeBron James, and the Cavs drop to 41.5 as a team. ... The Cavs lost 96-93 at Charlotte on Dec. 8, the final game of their six-game losing streak and the last one minus James. They committed 27 turnovers, while the Bobcats turned it over 20 times. ... The Bobcats (13-21) are coming off their biggest win of the season, 95-83 at Boston on Wednesday. They became just the fourth team to beat the Celtics, the second in Boston, snapping an 11-game road losing streak. Charlotte’s only other win away from home came in its first road game, a victory at Miami. ... Charlotte G-F Jason Richardson equaled a season high with 34 points on 14-for-22 shooting against Boston. He is averaging 27.2 points over the last 12 games. Richardson and F Gerald Wallace each average 20 points per game. ... Raymond Felton (14.3 ppg, 6.8 apg) and Emeka Okafor (12.7 ppg, 10.2 rpg) are Charlotte’s other two leaders. ... The Bobcats have won two straight.
Up next: The Cavs visit Memphis at 8 p.m. Tuesday.