Dribbles: Cavaliers Can't Walk Their Way Out of Ugly Loss
CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' 116-104 home loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.
1. Well, that sure was ugly.
2. For the first time this season, coach John Beilein and the Cavs seemed a little bit irritated after a game.
3. Actually, Beilein seemed downright frustrated.
4. His voice was raspy, his tone somber. It was as if he'd spent half of the night yelling at the officials and the other half shouting at his team.
5. When I asked Beilein a question, I started with, "It seems like you guys take two steps forward ..."
6. Beilein cut me off. "We have?" he snapped. "When?" Then he smiled and said I was being kind.
7. That's entirely fair, because at no point have the Cavs (5-13) really taken two steps forward. It's been more like a small step here and there.
8. If Beilein really did spend part of the night yelling at the refs, I don't blame him. The Cavs committed 25 turnovers, and they only have themselves to blame. But several were the result of ticky-tack traveling calls.
9. As Tristan Thompson diplomatically pointed out, the league is obviously making traveling "a point of emphasis this year." Yeah, no doubt about that one. And it's almost getting in the way of what people are paying to see -- action.
10. Thompson on traveling: "We've just got to do a better job. Like coach said, land on two feet. If you land on two feet, then you can make a better decision so they can't call a travel."
11. Translation: As the league does in too many areas, it's gone way overboard with its new emphasis on whistling players for walks. Not just in Cleveland, but all across the league. Thompson was smart enough not to say anything to draw a fine.
12. As for the night as a whole, Kevin Love returned from a two-game absence, the result of a lower back contusion. He didn't look right, scoring just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting. Love also only managed to grab five rebounds. This from a man who is averaging a double-double (17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg).
13. Darius Garland had one of those rookie nights, a night in which he scored 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting ... but also committed eight of the turnovers. "I see more energy and confidence in him, and I see more frustration with the turnovers," Beilein said. "He realizes it's something he needs to improve."
14. Beilein then touched on the topic of traveling. "The walk is the most frustrating thing," he said. "It's something you've been doing for 19 years and now you can't do it anymore. ... So we have to continue to work at it and get aligned with the officials."
15. It's hard to tell if Beilein was blaming the officials or his players there, but I sure haven't heard him fault the players too much in the past.
16. Though he did specifically address Collin Sexton, whose 20 points were tainted by five turnovers of his own. "I love that he got (six) assists; I hate that he still had turnovers," Beilein said. "If you compare stats between our guards and other guards, there is a lot of growth to be had there with assist-to-turnover ratio. That is one of my biggest stats."
17. For the record, the Cavs passed for 22 assists, compared to the 25 turnovers. "You can't win like that," Beilein said.
18. The defense wasn't much better. Magic guard Evan Fournier scored 30 points and big man Mo Bamba went for 15 on 5-of-5 shooting on 3-pointers. There were too many stretches where it looked as if the Magic were taking shooting practice, unguarded.
19. To give you an example of that, Bamba entered the night with a total of six threes in the first 16 games. He hadn't made more than one in any game and is averaging 4.3 points.
20. Thompson on Bamba: "I think everything else -- turnovers and that other stuff -- you can fix. But Mo Bamba is the reason they won the game tonight."
21. On top of all that, the Magic didn't have Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, arguably their two best players. Both are nursing ankle injuries. So you can probably understand Beilein's frustration.
22. Back to the Cavs. Cedi Osman had 14 points, Tristan Thompson scored 13 with 15 rebounds and Larry Nance Jr. went for 11 and 10, respectively. There were some decent individual performances, for sure.
23. Though I have to admit, I didn't realize Osman had reached double figures just by watching the game. It wasn't until I looked at the box score. In my defense, Osman went 3-of-11 shooting.
24. Anyway, the Cavs have yet to figure out what it takes to pull it together as a team. With as young as the backcourt is, they have very little margin for error. They also seem to be lacking that night-after-night fighting spirit that we saw through the first nine games.
25. Now would probably be a good time to get that back.
26. For more on the game, check out my recap: Cavs give gift of giveaways in falling to Magic.
27. Next up: Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks pay a visit Friday night. All they did was finish with the best record in the league last season. All Antetokounmpo did was win the league MVP award. All the Cavs have to do is probably play their best game of the season.
28. Happy Thanksgiving. I am always extremely grateful for those of you who love the Cavs, who read and have continued to follow along. Always feel free to let me know how I can better serve.