At some point, the Cavaliers need to stop messing around, wake up, toughen up and act like defending champions.
You don’t allow the New Orleans Pelicans to score 70 points in the first half when you’re giving actual effort. You don’t do it when you’re being aggressive and acting like you want a win.
The Cavs were the opposite of all that in the first half Monday, eventually suffering an embarrassing 124-122 road loss.
The Pelicans are a nice team, and have found some success lately by playing faster with a smaller lineup. And “small ball” it certainly was on this night, as the Pelicans were without All-Star starter Anthony Davis.
Yes, Davis sat with an injury. And the Cavs got worked.
Instead of Davis, the Cavs were ripped apart by the likes of Terrence Jones and Jrue Holiday. Jones scored 36 points, including 22 in the first half, abusing anyone who stepped in his path.
That included LeBron James with the game in the balance. Jones is a lefty with limited moves and a so-so jumper. But he is a smart player who always keeps his cool and attacks. On this night, he looked like a young Shawn Kemp. Jones filled in for Davis and blew away the Cavs’ obvious hopes of taking the night off and still getting a win.
Meanwhile, Holiday scored 33 and just dismantled the Cavs by going wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted.
Oh, some of the Cavs were magnificent, too, and that listed started with Kyrie Irving and his 49 points. Irving gave the Cavs hope, again and again, when all else seemed lost. No one really joined him, though.
James finished with 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and Kevin Love went for 22 points and 16 boards.
Everyone else? Well, Iman Shumpert had a nice moment here and there, but that was about it. Only Irving was truly amazing when it comes to the Big Three, with James and Love making too many boneheaded mistakes at crucial times.
Overall, the Cavs (30-13) have simply been too soft lately.
Hate to say it, but they really miss former point guard Matthew Dellavedova and his defense and grit off the bench. They get that from pretty much no one right now.
And it’s hard to know why they refuse to start Kyle Korver. Why’d you bring the guy here if you’re not going to give him a chance to flourish next to the Big Three?
Instead, coach Tyronn Lue seems content to let Korver try to create for himself next to fellow basketball fossils Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye.
Oh, and James is playing way too many minutes for a team that’s lost five of seven (he was out there for a whopping 44 on Monday).
Is it panic time for the Cavaliers? Hardly. LeBron’s teams historically coast for most of January and parts of February, then turn it back on after the All-Star break.
That’s what the Cavs did last year, and hey, it worked out OK.
But it’s time for James and his comrades to start getting serious and be the team they say they are, the team they know they can be. Enough of this other stuff already. It's beyond old.