Cavaliers' Optimism Quickly Turns to Mush in Ugly Loss

Sam Amico

CLEVELAND -- After two full days of practice and some high praise from their coach, the Cavaliers came out and delivered a big lump of coal.

Welcome to the world of rebuilding a franchise in the NBA.

Just when you start to feel good about yourselves, you get ... well, this.

Final score: Detroit 127, Cavaliers 94 in front of 17,504 fans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Tuesday.

It's hard to pinpoint what exactly has happened to the Cavs (5-15) since their admirable 4-5 start. All we can state as fact is they have lost 10 of 11. That includes three straight at home.

Or how about this -- their six-game homestand is one game from reaching its end. So far, the Cavs have won one of them. Some of the losses, including this one, have been full-blown hammer jobs.

The Cavs trailed by 16 at halftime and 29 at the end of the third quarter. And nothing against the Pistons (8-13), but it's not like we're talking Magic Johnson and the 1985 Showtime Lakers here.

So this was a bad loss in a season that's likely to have plenty of them. Worse, as far as the big picture goes, not a whole lot can be taken from this game. If you're the Cavs, the best idea is to just pretend it never happened.

Beforehand, coach John Beilein sounded optimistic.

"I know we got better. I hope you're going to see it," he said. "I'm confident in the progress we're making."

And then ... this.

"I'm disappointed but I'm not gonna flinch," Beilein said. "Very humbling. Detroit is not what their record is. But we need to get better. ... I can't explain it."

The Cavs did a lousy job of defending at the perimeter and were probably even worse at the rim. Pistons star Blake Griffin lit them up to the tune of 24 points in 24 fairly easy minutes. Center Andre Drummond added 17 points, 14 rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots.

Bright spots for the Cavs?

Yeah, there were't really any. Not in a loss where the ball doesn't move nearly well enough and the energy overall was fairly low.

Statistically, Collin Sexton scored 22 and Kevin Porter Jr. had 12. Of course, eight of Porter's came in the fourth quarter, long after things were out of hand. Kevin Love was mostly a no-show (for him) with eight points and four rebounds.

Perhaps the only actual good news was Brandon Knight, if you can believe that. The veteran point guard rarely plays, but finished with a plus-minus of two, the only positive mark on the entire team.

"Our offense was not good," Beilein said. "Our defense was equally bad."

Today, that pretty much sums up where the rebuilding Cavs stand.