Dribbles: Star Power of LA Proves Too Much for Learning Cavaliers

Sam Amico

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers' 128-103 blowout of a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

1. The Cavs have to be thrilled they are done in Los Angeles for another year. They have to be ecstatic to get away from the likes of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard -- and back to facing opponents who are somewhere closer to the middle of the pack.

2. Talent, depth and superstars will eventually wear down a team like the Cavs. It happened against LeBron and the Lakers on Monday. It happened again vs. Kawhi and the Clippers. Both of those opponents are much too dynamic for a rebuilding program.

3. So the Cavaliers will likely be thanking the heavens and kissing the ground in Memphis on Friday, when they get to face the middle-of-the-road Grizzlies.

4. That's right, the Cavs (12-29) now get two days off, as they leave LA in the dust and try to erase the memories of the past 48 hours.

5. The Cavs trailed the Lakers by more than 30 points. They did the same against the Clippers. In both games, they put together admirable first quarters. In both games, the youth of Cavs such as Darius Garland and Collin Sexton started to show. So did the fact the Cavs simply could not defend either team -- at all.

6. Leonard scored 43 points and he did it in three quarters. The Clippers are Leonard's third team in three seasons. He was named Finals MVP after winning a title with the Toronto Raptors last season. He appeared in two Finals with the San Antonio Spurs, winning one (2014). His 43 points were a career-high vs. the Cavs, and just two short of his best scoring night overall.

7. Never forget that Leonard and Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo were each selected with the No. 15 overall pick -- or one pick after the oh-so-coveted lottery portion of the draft. 

8. Moral of the story: You don't have to be totally awful to find a man who can take you places.

9. Along with being outmatched, the Cavs had to face the Clippers minus Kevin Love, who sat out to rest. Why Love needs to rest, I'll never know. Maybe he is saving himself for some secret plan of a deep run in the playoffs.

10. Cavs coach John Beilein opted to start Alfonzo McKinnie in place of Love. McKinnie was waived last week, then brought back a couple days later. Why those moves are made ... well, I'll never know that, either.

11. The game also marked the return of Larry Nance Jr., who had missed the previous several games with knee soreness. Nance was active but did not score in 19 minutes.

12. Sexton led the way with 25 points. Cedi Osman had a very nice night with 21, and shot 9-of-14 on 3-pointers in the LA games combined.

13. Also, Garland's game continues to show clear improvement, as he recorded his first double-double with 14 points and a career-high 10 assists. Matthew Dellavedova also scored 14 one night after not getting off the bench. And John Henson scored 10 and grabbed seven rebounds.

14. The Cavs trailed by just three before the Clippers closed the first half on a 13-0 run. Game over. Leonard had 26 points at halftime.

15. Still, some things were pleasing to Beilein. "I've never experienced a 30-point loss and have seen so many positives," he told reporters. "We can look at it and say, 'OK, there have been a lot of losses this year where we didn't have those type of (individual) numbers.'"

16. On the downside, Tristan Thompson missed all five of his shots and failed to tally a single point. This after starting the trip with a career-high 35 points at Detroit. He did grab eight rebounds against the Clippers.

17. Beilein wrapped up things this way: "We've had a growth mindset all year. We look around and we know where we are in terms of our transition. The only thing we can do is find our areas of growth right now. We need to find small victories in those."

18. Or as Henson said, "We're a lot better than Game One, I'll say that much."

19. Super sub Lou Williams came off the bench to score 24 points for the Clippers (28-13). Mo Harkless added 10 boards.

20. This marked the Cavs' first game against former coach Tyronn Lue, now an assistant with Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Read more about Lue here: Former coach wishes he were still directing Cavaliers.

21. The Clippers wore their Buffalo Braves throwback uniforms. The Cavs sported their black-and-blue jerseys from the Shawn Kemp era of the late 1990s. Both the Cavs and Braves/Clippers became expansion franchises on Feb. 6, 1970 (along with Portland).

22. Next up: The Cavs are 2-2 on their six-game swing and end the season series vs. Ja Morant and the Grizzlies on Friday. The Grizzlies are fighting for a playoff spot and lost the first matchup in Cleveland. They will have plenty of reasons to be motivated.