Zanesville native Kevin Martin lit up the free-falling Cavaliers last night as the Rockets coasted to a 110-95 victory in Houston. Martin is a prolific scorer who is always a threat to explode for 30+ points in game. Last night, he finished with 40 to eclipse the individual scoring output from that other Ohio native that torched the Cavaliers earlier this month. His 22 point first quarter was the 3rd highest scoring quarter in Rockets history and although the Cavs hung tough throughout the first half, it set the tone for a Rockets victory that was never truly in doubt.
The losing streak now stands at 7 and has included only a handful of competitive moments. Antawn Jamison, however, continues to show up for Byron Scott. He scored a season-high 24 points and was 9 of 15 from the field. He has scored 20 or more in 3 of the last 4 games during this stretch of horrendous play. Jamison has always been the ultimate pro and he continues to appear to be the only one fighting to end this streak. He wants to be traded. The Cavs want to trade him. But it’s not that simple as the financials of Jamison’s contract make him close to “untradeable.” Alas, he will likley have to continue to toil along in what is becoming a disastrous season.
The one glaring area of weakness during this losing streak has clearly been the Cavaliers defense (Mike Brown is not walking through that door!). In particular, the Cavaliers continue to struggle guarding out on the perimeter and defending the 3 point line. The Cavs are second to last in the league in 3 point defense and the Rockets shot close to 50% from three last night. This included a hot first quarter which featured not only Martin’s 22 points but also a quick 6 threes from Rick Adelman’s boys. This must become a priority for Scott and the Cavaliers, beginning tonight in Oklahoma.
As for the offense, in addition to Antawn, Mo chipped in with 18 points and 9 assists. Manny Harris was the first man off the bench and got some run but he was held scoreless in 16 minutes of play. JJ Hickson continues to look lost and is not handling his demotion to the bench with the utmost grace. Jawad Williams is never shy to start chucking and he got his shots last night – thankfully he was hitting and provided some quick scoring off the bench with 13 points in only 14 minutes.
But nothing sums up the current state of the Cavaliers more than Anthony Parker. His primary skill is his 3 point shooting. He went 0-4 last night and scored 8 points with -15 during his time on the floor. Most disconcerting, however, is that he led the team in minutes. This cannot happen. Over the past two years, Cavs fans have consistently questioned his starting status and the amount of floor time he receives. He is obviously not a part of the future but he’s also not very good in the present. Anthony Parker cannot lead your team in minutes.
As for Coach Scott, he’s reaching his wit’s end just like Cavaliers fans. According to an item from Mary Schmitt Boyer, he could be handling and coping with the losses just like the fans as well – by slamming Coors Lights, a true man of the people. Scott said this is how he handled a losing season as a player at the end of his career in Vancouver. It’s doubtful he is still coping that way as the coach but he is certainly trying to challenge his team to get out of the funk -
“They’re confused,” he said. “They’re frustrated. They’re searching as well. You’ve got a bunch of guys in here … they’re not used to this. There’s always something good to come out of it, because you’re going to find out what guys are really made of. I think that’s important, especially for a franchise that’s trying to move forward.
“It’s important for us to find out which guys we have in this locker room are going to stand pat. It’s great when it’s going well. Everybody’s great when it’s going well. But when it’s going bad, you really find out what you have.”
The Cavaliers continue to take their show on the road as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in OKC. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are salivating at the prospect of the wounded Cavaliers defense rolling into town on the 2nd night of a back to back.