Dribbles: Cavs Pick Wrong Night To Be Timid, Sloppy

Random dribbles from the Cavaliers’ 96-82 road loss to the Warriors on Sunday.

1. That was one of the two or three worst performances of the season for the Cavs.Darius Garland Steph Curry

2. Granted, the game marked the return of Klay Thompson, so it was an emotionally charged night for the Warriors — already one of the league’s best teams again. But the Cavs were mostly listless and out of sorts, especially offensively.

3. Basically, you know it will be a long night when your two best offensive weapons are Lamar Stevens and Rajon Rondo. Stevens wet for 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Rondo scored 15 on 6-of-10, including a startling 3-of-3 on 3-pointers.

4. Nothing against those guys, and kudos to both for showing up and playing with energy. But again, the Cavs aren’t going to win many games that way.

5. Nor will they win many when they continuously get beat to loose balls or offer teams such as the Warriors a bunch of second-chance points. But that’s what happened way too often on Sunday.

6. They also committed 18 turnovers and aside from Rondo, got zilch from the bench. Kevin Love, Cedi Osman and Dylan Windler combined for a miserable 3-of-17 shooting performance in reserve.

7. Jarrett Allen (12 points) and Evan Mobley (11) had their moments, but both were silenced from time to time, too. Or at least too often. Mobley grabbed six rebounds, but also committed five turnovers.

8. Meanwhile, Darius Garland (nine points, 3-of-12 shooting) had a night to forget. And for most of the evening, Lauri Markkanen (nine points) was even worse. 

9. Again, this isn’t intended to trash the Cavs. No one expected them to win this one. They did a nice job on Friday in the win at Portland. And you will have nights like these in an 82-game season.

10. Still, there’s no excuse for getting outrebounded as badly as they did (54-42) when they start three 7-footers and were clearly the taller team. That’s just a lack of focus, and something coach J.B. Bickerstaff cited as a major factor in the loss.

11. While admitting the Cavs (22-18) seemed timid, Bickerstaff didn’t view the night as a total waste. “It’s a good learning experience for our young group,” he said. “There were times I thought we were taken by the moment (of Thompson’s return) as a team. We were uncharacteristically not ourselves in certain moments.”

12. Bickerstaff added that the Cavs are now “good enough” to be taken seriously by opponents. “So we have to be prepared to be more forceful and more determined,” he said.

13. Longtime nemesis Steph Curry led the Warriors (30-9) with a game-high 28 points, with Golden State outscoring Cleveland by 23 when he was on the court. Thompson understandably looked a little rusty, with many of his shots falling short. But he still scored 17.

14. Garland suffered some sort of injury near the end, though what happened wasn’t exactly clear. He was bent over at the final buzzer. We’ll know more before the Cavs’ road game Monday night vs. the Kings.

15. So, all in all, not much of a showing by the Cavs. That’s just the hard truth. But all that means is you shrug it off and move on to the next. My lone concern: Will the Cavs miss Ricky Rubio more than even they suspect? This game makes you wonder.

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