Dribbles: Lack of zip zaps LeBron, Cavs

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AmicoHoops

CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' 96-88 defeat to the visiting Pistons on Monday.

1. Too much is often made of these losses, but you don't want to just blow it off, either. The Cavs need to find a way to win games like these -- home games against young and hungry teams that are just dying to stick it to LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

2. The Cavs (40-15) also want to give themselves some separation in the East playoff race. It won't matter much if they don't land the No. 1 seed. At least, not if they stay healthy. As James said last season, "Just get me in the playoffs." But usually, having more home games than road is a good thing.

3. Speaking of LeBron, he wasn't very LeBron-like. He struggled mightily to the tune of 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting, and led an ugly night of offense with six turnovers. And that outside shot, oh, that outside shot. LeBron was 0-of-4 on 3-pointers.

4. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue on James: "It was one of those games. You know, one of those odd games that you rarely see him play."

5. Now, no one says much about James' jumper when the Cavs win, and they do win quite a bit. But win or lose, it will help the Cavs capture a title if James is a little more consistent from deep. But I've been saying that since he returned to Cleveland. Not much has changed.

6. I sat next to a scout from an opposing team and he basically shrugged off the loss. "The Pistons hammered the Warriors, too," he said. "They do have that potential." One problem with Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and the Pistons is they don't often get fired up enough for everyone outside the Cavs and Warriors.

7. The Cavs entered the night having won five straight. The Pistons (28-29) had lost five straight. I rarely know what to expect anymore.

8. Kyrie Irving finished with 30 points, but 21 shots are probably too many. Kevin Love scored 24 and grabbed seven rebounds -- carrying a magnificent performance from Sunday's win at the Thunder into this one. But he wasn't nearly as utilized in the second half, and I can't help but wonder why.

9. The Cavs trailed by 17 points in the second half -- then Timofey Mozgov came off the bench and provided a major spark defensively. The Pistons basically stopped driving, as Mozgov stood in the lane and protected the basket.

10. The opposing scout on Mozgov: "Everyone wants to play small because of the Warriors. But you don't need to do that. If you have a guy who can protect the basket, use him. Those guys are rare and they are invaluable."

11. LeBron on what was lacking: "Energy. Didn't like the energy from myself all the way down to everyone else."

12. Tristan Thompson tends to struggle against the much larger Drummond (who doesn't?), and Thompson was way off on this night. He managed just two shots for 0 points with six rebounds – well below his average. I always say that when the ball moves, Tristan is often the Cavs' biggest beneficiary. The fact he got just two shots tells me the ball didn't move.

13. Anyway, no need to panic over this one. The Cavs have a couple things to work on, no doubt. Everyone does. They've got time. Let's just see how it goes. I'd be more worried if they also lost at home Wednesday vs. the Hornets.

14. Until then, check out my quick video breakdown of the game with Amico Hoops' Gab Kreuz.