Mike Brown isn't necessarily the type to rant and rave, but that didn't stop the Cavaliers coach from calmly launching into a blistering critique of his players following Cleveland's 98-91 home loss to Washington on Wednesday night.
"We didn't compete," Brown said bluntly, in comments recorded by Fox Sports Ohio. "We had one guy that competed the entire time he was on the floor, and that was Matthew Dellavedova."
When a coach singles someone out for recognition, that's usually the highest compliment a player can receive. Here, it was both a show of thanks to Dellavedova, who finished with nine points (on 3-for-6 shooting) and three rebounds, and a direct indictment of the other 12 Cavaliers who took the court.
"I'm not trying to be funny," Brown continued. "[The effort] is a concern. That's a concern for anybody when you don't go out there and compete and play hard. You're going to tell me the five guys I put in the game can close a 30-point game by going out there and getting stops? Didn't play hard."
Washington's lead never quite got to 30 points, but the Wizards did lead by as much as 27 points before Dellavedova, an undrafted rookie guard who hails from Australia, helped key a Cleveland fourth-quarter push to make the final score a little bit more respectable. Somewhat incredibly, Dellavedova finished with a plus-21 on the night whereas Kyrie Irving finished minus-20 and Tristan Thompson finished minus-28. Starting center Andrew Bynum finished a minus-21 despite only playing 13 minutes.
"The only way I know how to coach [effort] is what I did tonight," Brown said. "If I'm not getting it, maybe I waited a little too long [to play the reserves], I don't know. I've got to find guys who are going to give it to me. It's as simple as that. I can't be in anybody's body or anybody's mind. We get paid great money to go play the game and play the right way. We didn't compete. We didn't play hard."
Cleveland fell to 4-8 with the loss and has dropped four of its last five games. Brown's tongue-lashing comes just days after Dion Waiters missed two games due to an "illness" in the wake of a rumored locker room post-game altercation. Waiters did not start for the first time this season against the Wizards, and scored 11 points (on 2-for-13 shooting) and committed three turnovers in 30 minutes off the bench.
Brown was fired by the Lakers after a 1-4 start
to the 2012-13 season. The Cavaliers re-hired Brown, who previously coached the team from 2005-2010, back in April