June 25, 2016


Kyrie Irving sprains shoulder in Friday night loss

CLEVELAND — FedEx and the United States Postal Service couldn’t have mailed this one in nearly as fast. Heck, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL don’t always work this quickly.

The Cavaliers didn’t even show up Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena, falling 121-84 to the Milwaukee Bucks in a game that wasn’t a game at all.

“One of those nights where I can’t find the words to match the emotions (at least non-profane words),” tweeted Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who met with general manager Chris Grant and coach Byron Scott in Scott’s office after the game. “Cavs fans deserve better. Much better.”

It would seem things can’t get any worse for a 17-32 Cleveland team that has dropped six straight and nine of its last 10, but they can.

Point guard Kyrie Irving, who had 29 points in 32 minutes, sprained his right shoulder and said after the game that he was in “a lot of pain.”

Irving suffered the injury with 2:12 left in the second period when he fell hard on the floor after running into an Ersan Ilyasova screen, but came back and played the entire third period despite the fact the Cavs were down 27 at intermission.

The 20-year-old, who left the locker room with a book bag slung over his back, said he separated the same shoulder as a sophomore in high school.

“I’ll get through it,” Irving said. “I’ll take a lot of Advil.”

Irving, who said he did not have an X-ray after the game, flew with the team for tonight’s game in New York and will be evaluated again this morning by the team’s medical staff. If he can’t play, NBA Development League call-up Donald Sloan is the likely starter at point guard.

That prospect might be enough for Scott, whose team fell to 9-17 at The Q, to ask for some of Irving’s Advil.

“We should be embarrassed with how we’ve played at home,” Scott said when informed of Gilbert’s tweet. “Our fans do deserve better.”

And to think the 37-point loss wasn’t even the worst of the season. The Cavs suffered a franchise-record 39-point home loss, 114-75, to Chicago on Jan. 20.

“We’ve got to come out with more fight,” Scott said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Actually, some fight — any fight — would be a start.

The Bucks (24-27), who began the night 2 1/2 games back of New York in the battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, didn’t do anything fancy. Simple fastbreaks, dribble handoffs and off-ball screens were way more than enough against the Cavs.

Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings, who didn’t play in the final quarter, already had scored all 28 of his points with 4:41 to play in the third quarter, as he went 11-for-17 from the field in just 31 minutes.

Small forward lyasova, who was questionable due to back spasms, was even more efficient, putting up 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting and adding 10 rebounds in a mere 24 minutes.

Then there was Mike Dunleavy, who hit four 3-pointers in his first 5:41 on the court and finished with 16 points in just 19 minutes. He was 5-for-7 from the field, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.

“I would hope the guys are really upset with the way we played,” Scott said.

It didn’t seem like it.

The Cavs played no defense in falling behind 35-26 after the first period, but they were only getting started.

In not much more time than it takes to say “Dunleavy for three” — he hit three in the first 2:28 of the second period — the Cavs were down 28. The Bucks went on a 16-0 run in the first 3:36 of the quarter, then expanded that spurt to 20-1 to go up 55-27 with 7:27 left in the first half.

After Beno Udrih somehow blew a layup on Milwaukee’s first possession of the second quarter, the Bucks scored on nine straight trips down the floor. Five of them were 3-pointers — Jennings had two in the stretch — as the Bucks scored a mindboggling 23 points in a span of 4:18.

“You’ve got to take it out on somebody,” a subdued Scott said. “You can’t take it out on your teammates. You’ve got to take it out on another team.”

Second chances

Irving was 6-for-6 on 3-pointers, setting team rookie records for most threes made in a game and most made without a miss. The last rookie to make at least six threes without a miss was Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who was 6-for-6 on Jan. 5, 2010.

Cavs starters Antawn Jamison (2 points, 1-for-4 shooting) and Anthony Parker (6 points, 2-for-10 shooting), who are a combined 71 years old, totaled eight points on 3-for-14 shooting in 59 minutes.

 Alonzo Gee had 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting and eight boards for the Cavs, while Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Thompson’s nine offensive rebounds were the most by a rookie this season and most by a Cleveland rookie since Zydrunas Ilgauskas matched that total on April 11, 1998.

 Subtract Irving (11-for-20), Thompson (6-for-11) and Gee and Cleveland was 9-for-43 from the field.

 Through three periods, the Cavs’ bench had three points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.