The Cavaliers tied the NBA’s consecutive loss record last night in Memphis with their 23rd straight defeat. It felt like this was the one to break the streak, but, as has been a trend, they squandered their opportunity with a horrendous fourth quarter to lose by 7. Over the course of about a quarter, from the 9 minute mark in the third to midway through the fourth, the Cavaliers went from winning by 11 to losing by 12. These Cavaliers have achieved a number of things never seen before but their mastery of the 20 point differential quarter this season is astounding.
The Cavaliers were competitive in this one due in large part to the contributions from J.J. Hickson. Like everyone on this team, he’s had a poor season. His effort and commitment are continually called into question and his failure to show up on a consistent basis is a large reason for the Cavaliers record-breaking woefulness. But J.J. wanted to end the losing streak last night and he came to play.
He finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds. The point total tied his career high, set during an era that seemed long ago. It was an impressive performance coming against Zach Randolph, a notorious stat sheet stuffer. Fifteen boards against Randolph and Marc Gasol is unexpected but an effort that the Cavs will need consistently out of Hickson in order to break this streak.
Hickson, in what was not the world’s most inspiring quote, indicated that he was ready for the streak to end, “They say you can’t win them all, but in the same light, you can’t lose them all either. If we stay persistent, I think we’ll get a couple of wins before the season is over.”
In the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies ramped up the pressure and the Cavaliers quickly folded. They committed turnover after turnover to relinquish a lead that seemed like it taken the effort of Hannibal crossing the Alps to build. And just like that, it was gone and the Cavs were record holders.
The Cavs do not have the defense to balance out sloppy stretches of play on the offensive end. Randolph looked like Jared Sullinger against overmatched high school kids on the block. He finished with 29 and 13 to cancel out Hickson’s efforts on the other end. In addition, Rudy Gay, Sam Young and Mike Conley all had 19 plus point games. The Grizzlies only shot 8 times from beyond the arc, a notorious weak spot for the Cavs defense. This kept the Cavs in the game until the collapse on both ends in the fourth.
The good news for the Cavaliers is they can quickly forget about this one and immediately have another chance to end the streak tonight at home. The bad news is they play a Portland Trail Blazers team fighting for a playoff spot who are also particularly irritable at the all star snub of forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Tip is at 7:30 as the Cavaliers look to avoid setting a record for atrociousness.