Dribbles: No Gain, Plenty of Pain as Cavaliers Blasted Again

Sam Amico

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers' 143-101 basketball massacre of a road loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

1. What can possibly be said after a 42-point defeat? Is it too early to start talking about shaking up the roster? Maybe, but maybe not, too.

2. Five games ago, everyone was giddy over how the Cavs were battling, surprising, refusing to fold. Five games later, most people can't bear to watch beyond the first quarter.

3. As you're probably aware, the Cavs (4-11) have lost six straight. As you may also know, they have trailed by at least 21 points in the first half of each of the previous five.

4. So, they're not even giving themselves a chance. Earlier this season, they often battled back from large deficits. Now, things only seem to get worse with every tick off the clock.

5. I know. I'm not really offering any real insight here. If you're watching (and I have my doubts), you already know that the issues are everywhere -- but nowhere quite like defense.

6. Luka Doncic and the Mavericks (10-5) are just the latest example. They shot 58 percent from the field overall, a sizzling 20-of-37 on 3-pointers and scored 70 points in the paint. In other words, the Cavs didn't defend on the perimeter, at the rim, or anywhere in between.

7. Doncic has been outstanding against everyone, so the Cavs aren't alone here. But he compiled 56 points, 21 rebounds and 29 assists in his two games vs. the Cavs this season, finishing with 30 points and 14 assists on Friday.

8. Good news, everybody: The Cavs don't have to face the Mavs again until next season.

9. Better news, everybody: The Cavs' next six games are all at home, starting Saturday vs. Portland. Of those six opponents, only one has a winning record (Milwaukee).

10. Of course, with the way the Cavs have looked lately, it won't matter. Right now, they couldn't even defend the Gatorade cooler at the end of the bench.

11. It's true that the schedule has been tough, with so many games in so few nights, and so many on the road. But when that's the case, your defense can't be floating around, sort of paying attention and mostly not.

12. I haven't mentioned any Cavs individually because when you lose by 42, the numbers are meaningless. 

13. OK, about the only good thing was rookie Darius Garland finally getting to see the ball go in the basket -- as Garland tallied a career-high 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

14. Conversely, Tristan Thompson was outstanding in the first seven or eight games ... but has tailed off lately. 

15. Remember how Thompson was a double-double machine at the start of the season? Well, in the last four games, he's averaging a pedestrian 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. Compare that to the first four -- when he averaged 20.3 and 11.8, respectively.

16. As we learned early, the Cavs need Thompson and Kevin Love to be at their absolute best to have a fighting chance. Love was even worse Friday, finishing with eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.

17. Yes, part of it is a talent issue. The Cavs are almost always the smaller team. That is a cold, hard truth John Beilein addressed after Friday's loss.

18. Beilein to reporters: "Our lack of size is really showing up at every position. ... People are taking advantage of it."

19. Beilein didn't offer any concrete solutions. "We just have to find ways to get better," he said. "My job right now is to get the most out of these guys defensively."

20. He did that at the beginning of the season. Today, though, the Cavs need some home games and they could sure use some opponents who aren't near the top of the league. They are about to get that. Now let's see what they can do with it.

21. Cedi Osman finished with 18 points and Collin Sexton finished with 14 and passed for a season-high five assists. So hey, at least the box score looked a little better for those two.

22. Osman told FOX Sports Ohio, "We're the ones who are gonna have to figure it out. We can't let the other team bully us." 

23. Translation: Somehow, someway, the Cavs will have to find the resolve they displayed earlier this season and start making some progress. A six-game homestand may help with all that. But at this point, who really knows?

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