The Cavaliers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers last night to set a new single season NBA consecutive loss record. It was the 24th consecutive loss for a team that has not won a game since December 18th. They have lost an absurd 34 out of 35 games. They did not blow a lead in the fourth quarter as they did in Memphis on Friday but the Cavs were once again competitive throughout this contest. The Cavaliers defense simply cannot get stops at the end of games when they need to (this happens at the beginning and middle of games as well). There 3 point defense has plagued them all season and it was the driving reason why they lost again last night and broke the record.
The Blazers shot over 60% from behind the arc, with a barrage from Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews coming in the 3rd quarter to re-take the lead. They hit 12 threes and the Cavaliers yet again floundered to close out on their wings who set up on the arc off of Andre Miller’s penetration. Batum finished with 21 points. Matthews, an undrafted 2nd year player out of Marquette, was lethal all evening and finished with 31 points. The two combined to hit 10 of the team’s 12 threes. Rudy Fernandez converted the other two bombs, which included a crushing 3 pointer to extend the Blazers’ lead from four to seven with about five minutes to play.
Sebastian Pruiti of NBAPlaybook put together a video post of how the Cavs inability to defend the arc is the prime contributing factor to this losing streak. Pruiti focused on the Pacers loss last week but the video could have been spliced out of any game this season. John Krolik, lays a lot of the blame for the woes on the defensive end with Antawn Jamison, writing, “I cannot stress this enough: Antawn Jamison is playing the worst defense I have ever seen an NBA player play, and the Cavaliers cannot survive it. He should’ve been benched for Joey Graham in the second half.”
On offense, the Cavs had a solid first half and found themselves up 2 heading into the locker room. The offense was efficient throughout the first 24 and were buoyed by some instant offense from Jamario Moon off the bench. Moon finished with 14 points in only 19 minutes of play, including the aforementioned 8 point burst in the second. If the Cavs are going to break this streak, they will need at least one of these random bench guys to step up and have the more random high scoring and hot shooting game.
J.J. Hickson came back to earth after his monster effort on Friday night, chipping in with a minus 18 in 32 minutes. Daniel Gibson was back on the floor after missing the game Friday for personal reasons. He’s obviously a key offensive contributor for the Cavaliers but if he was the difference between a W and an L, well, the Cavs would not be in the middle of a 24 game losing streak. He finished with 12 points off the bench but did set a career high with 9 assists.
Coach Scott continues to grin and bear it and take the losing in stride. He’s been a part of championship teams and horrendous Vancouver Grizzlies teams. After the game, he dismissed the streak, “I [couldn't] care less about the record, its about getting better as a basketball team.”
The Cavaliers will travel to Dallas for quick one game road trip to Dallas. It’s unlikely, nay impossibility, that they break the streak there. But after that trip comes the great week of opportunity that the basketball gods have blessed us with. The Cavs host the Pistons on Wednesday, the Clippers on Friday and then have the big showdown with the winless-on-the-road Wizards on Sunday. This time next week, we will be talking about a Cavaliers winning streak.