CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cavaliers got smoked by another member of the NBA’s elite and the reality that this team – in its current state – is nowhere near the title contender they’re expected to be is starting to sink in.
Houston curb stomped and embarrassed the listless Cavs 120-88 Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena on national TV.
“Our mindset has to change — what we’re really playing for,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “Are we playing to win or are we playing to look good? We have to be tougher. When things get tough we have to be tougher.”
Soft doesn’t begin to describe this team right now.
Lue was asked directly if they even tried Saturday night and his answer was honest, yet astounding.
“Don’t look like it,” Lue said. “We didn’t have no fight. I thought they took the game to us on both ends.”
No one in the locker room after the game disagreed with Lue’s assessment.
Therein lies 1 of about a million problems they have right now.
The Rockets, who launched 51 threes and hit 19 of them, led by 12 after 1, 26 at half and 28 after 3 as boos cascaded down from the sellout crowd at just about every timeout.
“Another embarrassing loss. Something gotta change,” Isaiah Thomas said. “I don’t know. It was bad from the jump. I don’t want to comment too much on it. I need to watch film to see what really went down. It wasn’t a good one for us on both ends.”
The Cavs were ice cold again from deep – just 8 of 30 and the team shot 39.1 percent from the field as a whole in the loss.
Lue decided his starters took enough of a beating through 3 quarters and gave them the fourth off, even though they looked like they took the night off anyway.
LeBron James finished a rebound and an assist shy of a triple-double – 11 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists on 3 of 10 shooting.
But James has no answers for how to fix a clearly broken Cavs team.
“When you have an opportunity, you do your job and you do it to the highest of your ability and you live with those results,” James said. “We don’t do that every day.”
Winds Of Change – General manager Koby Altman may need to blow up the roster – literally – by the NBA’s Feb. 8 trade deadline.
Unfortunately for Altman, so much is broken that 1 or 2 moves might not be enough to salvage this trainwreck.
And then there’s the issue of limited assets. Kevin Love has a broken hand so that takes him pretty much off the market. Thomas is a shadow of himself. Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith or Jae Crowder won’t exactly get rival GMs burning up the phones.
Following Saturday night’s embarrassing loss James wanted no part of being asked if changes needed to be made.
“That’s not a question for me,” James said. “I show up to work every day, bust my tail every day, I’m one of the first ones to get to the gym and I’m one of the last ones to leave. I do my part, I control what I can control, and [making moves] is what I cannot control.”
James’ future is also a factor.
Do Gilbert and Altman make wholesale changes while giving up their most valuable chip – the Brooklyn pick acquired for Kyrie Irving to make 1 last ditch effort to salvage the sinking ship?
“I’m not the GM,” James said.
Too Much Firepower – Chris Paul led 6 Rockets in double figures with 22 points and he added 11 assists and 8 rebounds.
Ryan Anderson added 21 points and 8 rebounds while James Harden was held to 16 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds – 15 below his league-leading average – and the Cavs still got run out of the gym.
Gerald Green tossed in 17 more off the bench in the victory that saw Houston shoot 47.3 percent.
Bricks Galore – Isaiah Thomas – hip injury or not – can’t do the only thing he’s known for: make shots.
Thomas was an unspectacular 5 of 13 from the field, including 0-4 from 3 to finish with 12 points. He is now a scintillating, barn-burning 50 of his last 148 shots over the last 11 games.
Unless Brooklyn’s first-round pick ends up as a top-3 lottery selection, Dan Gilbert, Altman and the Cavs got robbed, fleeced by the Celtics for Kyrie Irving.
National TV Blowouts – The Cavs have now lost 8 straight on national television – ESPN, ABC or TNT – this season.
Golden State – twice, Boston, Toronto, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Detroit and now Houston.
“I’m lost for words, actually,” James said. “Going 0-8 on national television. They should take us off every nationally televised game for the rest of the season. We haven’t played good ball and we get our butts kicked every time we play on national television, so I’m at a loss for words.”
Of those losses 6 were by 10 or more points – Celtics by 14, Warriors by 10 on Martin Luther King Day, the Raptors by 34, Thunder by 24, the Spurs by 12 and now the Rockets by 32.
The Land – The Cavs debuted their ‘City Edition’ uniforms Saturday night.
The grey uniforms have ‘The Land’ across the chest with the white lettering and numerals outlined in dark gray with gold highlights.
The team will wear the ‘City Edition’ threads a total of 12 times – 8 home, 4 road – this season.