INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – One step forward, 2 steps back.
That’s the Cleveland Cavaliers in a nutshell.
And it’s becoming frustrating for head coach Byron Scott.
After winning 7 of 10, the Cavaliers have dropped their last 2 including a 100-92 defeat Monday night at home to a depleted Minnesota Timberwolves team.
His message to his team was pretty cut and dry Tuesday afternoon.
“I said my piece as far as some things guys needed to hear,” Scott said. “You’ve got to start doing what you’re supposed to be doing every singe night. It can’t be 3 or 4 games where we come out and play hard and then 2 or 3 games where we don’t.
“If you’re really serious about winning and getting better as a team you gotta compete every single night.”
Minnesota hadn’t won on the road since Jan. 3 – star center Kevin Love’s last game before he was lost indefinitely with a broken hand.
The Cavaliers still lost.
Cleveland will close out the first half of the season Wednesday night at home against San Antonio and look to avoid going into the break on a 3-game slide.
The Spurs are coming off a 103-89 blowout victory in Chicago minus their big 3 stars – Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili – Monday night.
Scott said the Spurs’ win over the Bulls with a depleted lineup should be an eye opener for his young team of how to play the game.
“I told them, ‘The team we’re going to play tomorrow, look, they’re going to play 1 way – hard,'” Scott said. “They play that way on both ends of the floor. They don’t take plays off, they don’t care who scores, they just are gonna come after you. And they beat a good Chicago team by 20-something points without their 3 best players.”
San Antonio is in the midst of their annual ‘rodeo trip’ which will see them play 9 games in 16 days away from home. They are 3-1 so far and the All Star break is squeezed in the middle of it.
Aside from a lecture, Scott also delivered a warning before Wednesday nights game – show up or get run out of the gym.
“If we don’t come with the right attitude about competing and playing hard and coming out and just going after them and being aggressive,” Scott said. “It’s going to be a bit like the Chicago game. They’re that good.”
Playing to the level of their competition has become a disturbing trend for the Cavaliers this season. Lose to lesser opponents like Detroit and Minnesota but rise to the occasion and beat the likes of the Thunder and Celtics.
“Those game we obviously can get up for,” All Star guard Kyrie Irving said. “But we have to find consistency in getting up for the Minnesota Timberwolves or Detroit Pistons. We have to find consistency on a night to night basis with our effort on both ends of the floor.”
The Spurs, who are 41-12, won’t require much motivation to get up for.
The last time Scott had a heart to heart with players following a lackluster effort came at Detroit on Feb. 1.
It resulted in 3 straight wins.
He’s expecting a similar response Wednesday night before the break.
“We’ll see if we’ve learned from it,” Scott said. “It’s that simple.”