CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – It would seem odd in 2018 that with all the data points available, no one could quite pinpoint why the Cleveland Cavaliers occasionally fall into a lull from the 3-point line.
Anyone who was asked on Sunday night after a 110-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs had the same answer: ‘we just weren’t hitting shots.’
That reply was correct, and it has been correct. After shooting 8-for-34 from distance on Sunday, the Cavs are now 16-of-69 from deep in the two home games at Quicken Loans Arena since the All-Star break.
LeBron James said he does not fault the team’s energy, nor did he in the 110-103 loss to the Wizards on February 22nd. The team got good looks in each game, but just could not convert, according to the four-time MVP.
The Spurs did not hit shots either, at least in the first half. San Antonio trailed 53-50 at the break while shooting 34.9% from the field. The Cavaliers shot 45.7 from the field in the first half, but just 21.4 percent from deep.
The Wine and Gold were relatively fine in the 3rd as well, shooting 9-of-22, but fell behind even further with an 8-of-23 4th.
Normally, it would seem as if the team was just skirting the question for lack of wanting or having an answer, but does it explain enough that the team just had an off night?
The Cavaliers dominated down low, scoring 50 points in the paint opposed to San Antonio’s 34, and outrebounded the Spurs, 47-44. The Cavs also got out in transition for 28 fastbreak points, going 11-of-14 on the run.
Head coach Ty Lue said his guys did what they had to given their struggles from deep.
“Drive the basketball, post up,” he said, “but still, we didn’t make outside shots. They do a good job of switching and double-teaming when we get mismatches on the block. When they do that, we know we have to make shots and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Reporters on scene were even looking for the slimmest margin for error, as one media member asked Jordan Clarkson whether or not picking up new sight lines in a new arena could cause a collective drought. One of the newest Cavaliers gave credence to the idea.
“When I would come here with the Lakers, we’d play here once a year,” Clarkson said. “I’m not making excuses for missed shots or nothing, but once guys keep playing here, start feeling the energy, guys will start making shots, all of us will make shots and that will get us rolling.”
That excuse, for lack of a better term at this point, could only explain so much as season-long Cavaliers still shot just 5-for-24 from range.
It was the closest thing that anyone was willing to say without seeing the tape, though LeBron said it was to be expected.
“We’ve got to get better, man. Did I not tell you guys this? Did I not tell you guys this?” he asked twice. “We’re going to have some games where we look great and some games where we don’t.
“Defensively, we were in tune. They started making shots and we couldn’t make shots. It’s not a surprise, not to me.”
Individually, it was a fine night for James, and another historic one.
LeBron dropped 33 points, and grabbed 13 rebounds, coming up one assist short of a triple double.
Though one short of that feat, James’ eighth assist pushed him past Rod Strickland for 11th all-time, finishing at career dimes 7989.
James sits 535 assists behind former Cavalier Andre Miller for 10th all-time, and 612 behind his friend Chris Paul prior to his game against the Denver Nuggets.