For a brief moment in the third quarter, it looked as if the Cavaliers, against all odds, where in their game against the Houston Rockets. Down at the half, Cleveland went on a 7-0 to start the half and even held a 65-63 lead at one point. But then Houston guard James Harden hit a three-pointer that put the Rockets up by one point and for good. From there, it was a slow and painful beat down given out by the Rockets.
In the final seconds of the Rockets victory, Jeremy Lin lead a Houston led a Houston fast break with Dwight Howard and James Harden trailing behind him. Lin – who recored his first career triple-double against the Cavaliers – threw the ball off the backboard into Harden’s hands and Harden slammed it home. And he did so with the Cavaliers trailing behind, as they just looked on as the Rockets coasted carefree to victory.
After a few more seconds passed (and Tristan Thompson threw down a meaningless dunk) the Cavaliers finally were put out of their misery by a final score of 106-92.
This game was let another blowout and one that is in no way comforting for a Cavaliers team in need of some good news considering everything going on off the court. Mike Brown even tried to shake things up by starting Jarrett Jack at the two spot in place of C.J. Miles.
The one bright spot for the Cavaliers was that they got solid production from Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Luol Deng. The trio were the only Cavaliers to score in double-figures and spurred the short-lived comeback that started in the second quarter and carried over into the third.
But those three were the only bright spots of another disappointing Cleveland loss. And there was nothing trill about the Cavaliers performance in H-Town.
PG Kyrie Irving – 39 minutes, 21 points, 8-19 shooting, seven assists, four rebounds, six assists
Irving was much better in the first half than in the second tonight, but this was Irving’s best performance of late. I guess that’s a positive?
SG Jarrett Jack – 31 minutes, seven points, 3-9 shooting, six assists
Jarrett Jack the starter was the same Jarrett Jack that came off the bench. He was inefficient, didn’t score and struggled to create his own shot. He also had a +/- score of -16 – the worst on the team. The Cavaliers investment in him isn’t look so great.
SF Luol Deng – 36 minutes, 24 points, 10-19 shooting, four rebounds
Oh Luol Deng. He was solid tonight, created his own shot and played competent defense. Still, it was again clear that Deng doesn’t solve all of the Cavaliers problems. If he did, they wouldn’t be losing games by 14 points.
PF Tristan Thompson – 35 minutes, six points, 2-6 shooting, seven rebounds
Thompson was not very good again tonight. Terrance Jones did whatever he wanted against him and he struggled to do anything productive on offense. His best play of the night came at the end of the game when he dunked with just seconds on the clock. That says a lot.
C Tyler Zeller - 27 minutes
At least he played more minutes than Henry Sims tonight.
G Dion Waiters - 26 minutes, 19 points, 8-14 shooting, 2-3 from three, four assists
Dion played well tonight and was energetic off the bench. He definitely deserves some praise for helping the Cavaliers attempt to come back, but he also had some moments tonight were Harden had him on skates and confused. He also had some questionable shot choices when there were open teammates around him better looks. But at least he scored. And then referred to himself in third person when talking to the media after the game.
Mike Brown continues to baffle me as a head coach. He has some nights where I think he’s made the right tactical decisions and he pushes the right buttons as the Cavaliers are able to actually win a game. But then there are games like tonight. He again gave Henry Sims heavy minutes with Anderson Varejao out with injury, which is somewhat defensible. But he seemed to prefer having Sims defending Dwight Howard as opposed to Tyler Zeller at times. That doesn’t seem to make sense.
As for his decision to start Jack, it made sense. Trying to shake the team up with a lineup switch wasn’t the worst idea in the world and considering that Zeller was already in the starting lineup, subbing in Jack for Miles was the only real option. Still, it’s hard to be a big Mike Brown fan right now.