For a string of seasons leading into this one, the Cleveland Cavaliers were expected to play "Cavalier Basketball" for 48 minutes. At the beginning of this season, they were expected to play "hard" for 48 minutes. By the end of their historical 26-game losing streak last month, they were just asked to play for 48 minutes. On Thursday night in Portland, the Cavs didn't do anything . . . for any minutes.
And that's no exaggeration. At all.
After taking the opening tip, the Blazers posted up Ramon Sessions, and scored over him on a simple bank shot. It was easy. And unfortunately for the Cavs, that was the hardest it was going to be for the Blazers all night.
Sessions responded by dribbling around, and nailing a 15-foot jumper.
Fast forward to the very next Cavaliers field goal: A 3-pointer by Baron Davis, who is back with the team after taking some personal time to deal with the death of his grandmother. It wasn't a bad shot necessarily, but there was one huge problem with it:
It happened more than 11 minutes after that Sessions jumper. Yes, 11 minutes!
Obviously, that's not good at all.
Fortunately, Cleveland was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw stripe, so they weren't on the brink of their lowest-scoring quarter of all time, which was four. That happened in a game against Boston back in 2000. In that game, the Cavs lost by 15 points, 87-72.
In this one, the Cavs lost by 41, 111-70. And it felt even worse, if that's possible.
While the Cavs were doing nothing, the Blazers found "nothing" to be quite easy to score on. After initially going up 24-2 mid-way through the first, the Blazers finished the quarter with a 37-12 lead. The Blazers shot 70% in the quarter compared to the Cavs' 12%. Naturally, Portland also led in rebounds 15-3, and assists 10-0.
The Blazers looked like a team on the rise that was looking to solidify a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Their defense was relentless . . . their offense was creative and opportunistic . . . their attitude had swagger.
The Cavs looked like a fragile team that had dropped down from the roof of the arena, and shattered into a million pieces on the floor. Their defense lacked backbone . . . their offense lacked, well, everything, but mostly made-baskets . . . their attitude could be best described as being like a deer in headlights.
The Cavs' problems deepened in the second quarter. Seven minutes in, the Cavs were down by 38, 56-18. After putting a little offense together, they finished the half down by 32, 65-33. Then, they came out of halftime, and promptly gave up a 9-0 run to Portland.
The Cavs' best offensive play of the quarter happened when Baron Davis walked the ball up the court, and then abruptly chucked up a three-pointer. It missed. But since he shot the ball so suddenly, the Blazers' defense didn't have time to box out J.J. Hickson, who snared the offensive rebound and put it in the hoop. Yup, that was the jewel.
Things bottomed out with 3:15 left in the third with the Cavs down by 46, 88-42.
And whatever happened after that, like what happened before it, doesn't matter.
The crazy thing is, this is only the Cavs' second-worst loss of the season . . . at least, points-wise. As you'll recall, they were crushed by the L.A. Lakers back on January 11th, 112-57. That's a 55-point loss, which broke a 30-year-old record for largest margin of defeat. The 57 points also set a franchise low in points scored in a game.
But could the Portland game actually be worse, statistically? Let's compare . . .
Field Goal Percentage:
Free Throw Percentage:
Fast Break Points:
Points in the Paint:
According to this statistical rundown, the worst game is... actually, that's five votes for the L.A. game and five for the Portland game. Totally unplanned! I guess there's no winner in losing. (That line was also unplanned, one more and I'm on fire!)
Not that the stats really matter anyway, both of these games were over almost before they even got started, so it's not like any of numbers beyond the first few minutes really mean much of anything at all.
Speaking of things not meaning anything, the Cavs' individual performances were about as dull as the game. Ramon Sessions led the Cavs with 14 points (on 4-of-8 shooting) with one rebound and no assists. Daniel Gibson added 12 points (on 2-of-5 shooting), also with one rebound and no assists.
Manny Harris actually did have an assist (three of the Cavs' six, actually), and he added 10 points (on 5-of-6 shooting). He also had two rebounds and two steals. I guess if you had to name one player who did OK, you could go with Harris . . . or maybe Sessions.
But again, a lot of the nice plays they made were within the 47 minutes of garbage time . . . and within a myriad of other not-so-nice plays.
It's best just to leave games like this a wash. Nothing was lost, nothing was gained. Onward.