Dribbles: Suddenly, Cavs' Rebuild a Little Stagnant, a Little Sour
CLEVELAND — Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' home 124-112 loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday.
1. These days, even crummy teams are creaming the Cavs. "Everyone else is getting better," said center Tristan Thompson. "We're at a standstill."
2. The Wizards are much like the Cavs. You're not really sure what the plan is, you just know they aren't very good. But Thompson is right — they have been a lot better than the Cavs and sure were on this night.
3. Keep in mind that the Wizards were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The first was an overtime loss at Miami. They arrived in Cleveland after 4 a.m. the day of the game. Yet they were the ones with most of the energy and most of the determination.
4. The Cavs (12-33) did have some energy too. Difference is, they looked like they didn't know what to do with it. That's been the case about half the time this season.
5. Cavs coach John Beilein again was a man with few answers. "They shot the heck out of the ball," he said. "We couldn't stop them. ... That didn't feel good."
6. Collin Sexton scored 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting. It sounds like a great game. But it's fair to wonder whether those are winning numbers. Sexton keeps scoring, and the Cavs keep losing. He did grab four rebounds and pass for four assists. Again, though, is any of that pushing the Cavs forward?
7. Maybe, but maybe not too. It's hard to make a case for anyone as a future star when bottom-feeding opponents keep wiping the floor with your team.
8. More Beilein: "When we have those types of matchups, we feel like we have a better chance to beat someone who is down in the standings a little bit. So it does hurt."
9. I asked Sexton about morale and he stressed that everyone is good, that the players remain tight and continue to believe in each other. "We have a good locker room and good guys in the locker room," he said.
10. Sexton and Thompson later had a little fun, talking trash about football as they departed the arena. If there is any sort of discord, it's not showing.
11. What does that mean in terms of wins and losses and displaying actual improvement? Apparently not a whole lot, because the Cavs have taken some big steps back in the span of about two weeks.
12. As for the game, there was no stopping Bradley Beal. The Wizards guard lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 36 points on 15-of-22 shooting. More impressively, it only took him all of 29 minutes. Neither Sexton nor Darius Garland nor Cedi Osman nor the Cavs as a group could slow him down.
13. Garland had a miserable night with 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting. "The season can wear on you," Beilein said. "I don't want to talk about a (rookie) wall, but it is hard for a young man who hasn't gone through a 35-game season, let alone a 44-game season and an 82-game season."
14. Meanwhile, Larry Nance Jr. gave perhaps his best showing since November with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. He was everywhere around the rim, and if it weren't for Nance, the Cavs may have lost by 35.
15. Kevin Love added 21 points but didn't shoot particularly well (8-of-19, including 3-of-11 in the first half). With the trade deadline two weeks away, it's hard to know what the future holds for Love and the Cavs.
16. Love was asked by James Rapien of 92.3 The Fan if he still wants to be in Cleveland after the deadline. "Yeah, I’ll be happy if I’m still here," he said. "I fully plan to continue to help these guys. With Tristan, myself and Larry and these guys, being a leader. This place — Cleveland, the fans have been really, really good to me. So yes.”
17. Long-ago Cavaliers guard Scott Brooks is in his fourth season coaching the Wizards and had the line of the night after the game. "Our analytics guy, Dean Oliver, said we're 1-0 when we get in after 4 a.m.," Brooks said, smiling.
18. Overall, though, the Wizards are just 15-29 and 6-18 on the road. These are the types of games the Cavs need to win. They are now just 6-16 at home.
19. Read more in the game recap on SI.com: Weary Wizards wear down Cavs.
20. Next up: The Cavs host Chicago on Saturday. After that (drumroll please), No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williams and New Orleans make their lone visit of the season Tuesday.
- BOX SCORE: Wizards 124, Cavaliers 112