July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Cavaliers hand game over to Bucks

Rick Noland

The Gazette

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers handed a game to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.


Cleveland committed a whopping 27 turnovers, the most in a regulation game in the NBA this season, while losing 90-86 in front of 14,146 disgruntled fans and equally unhappy coach Byron Scott.

“It’s pretty simple,” Scott said. “When you come out with the lack of energy we came out with and commit 27 turnovers, you’re not going to win a lot of games.”

Point guard Kyrie Irving, who didn’t speak with the media because he was getting his face checked out by doctors after taking a hard fall in the first quarter, led Cleveland with 26 points, but he also led the way with six turnovers and had his defensive effort questioned by Scott.

Irving, who flew with the team for tonight’s game in New York, began the game on Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings and the Cavs fell behind 25-17 after the first quarter, prompting Scott to take Alonzo Gee off Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis and put him on Jennings.

Asked why he made the move, Scott said, “Kyrie wasn’t guarding him. (Jennings) was going wherever he wanted, but so were the rest of their guys.”

Scott said Gee’s willingness to pick up Jennings (5-for-20 shooting) full court helped the Cavs take a third-quarter lead after falling behind by 16 in the second period, but another problem surfaced.

Irving couldn’t guard Ellis, either, as the Bucks shooting guard finished with a season-high 33 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and six turnovers.

“He’s taken a couple steps back, but it’s something he can correct,” Scott said when questioned further about Irving’s defense. “Defense is something you don’t have to have a lot of talent to do. But you do have to have a whole lot of heart and a whole lot of desire.”

Irving, who was 9-for-23 from the field and had half as many assists as he did turnovers, also wasn’t great at the offensive end, but he had a ton of company n that regard.

Tyler Zeller, Daniel Gibson and C.J. Miles had four turnovers each, with Gibson having no assists, Zeller notching one and Miles contributing two. Anderson Varejao, who left the game midway through the second quarter and didn’t start the third period due to a lower left leg contusion, had three turnovers.

“I had a couple stupid plays and as a team we had a couple stupid plays,” Zeller said. “We’ve just got to make sure we get rid of those.”

The Cavs (5-19), who got 17 points from Miles and 18 rebounds from Varejao, were also guilty of errors of omission against the Bucks (12-9).

Time and again down the stretch, Cleveland passed up open shots and ended up having to take extremely difficult attempts to beat the shot clock — if it got up shots at all.

From Zeller repeatedly pump-faking instead of shooting to Miles, Irving and Varejao attempting to throw bounce passes past long-armed Milwaukee defenders, the Cavs were a mess.

Cleveland’s 27 turnovers were its most in a game since committing 28 at Denver on Jan. 17, 2003.

“There were times tonight when I had no idea what we were running,” Scott said. “We were fighting ourselves more than anything.”

Cleveland was without Dion Waiters (sprained ankle) and Omri Casspi (gastroenteritis), but Milwaukee was minus Cavs killer Mike Dunleavy (bruised knee), Beno Udrih (sprained ankle) and Tobias Harris (elbow laceration).

The Bucks, who got 16 points and eight assists from Jennings, 11 points and eight boards from Ersan Ilyasova, 10 points and 10 boards from Larry Sanders and nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals from Luc Mbah a Moute, weren’t great by any means — both teams shot less than 40 percent from the field — but they were better than the Cavs.

“The way we played tonight, the way we played in the second half, it was terrible,” Varejao said. “We can’t play like that. We have to play with more energy.”

Second chances

Fresh off a franchise-record 23-point second half Wednesday in Indiana, the Cavs came out and went 5-for-21 from the field (.238) in the first quarter. Irving was 1-for-6, Varejao was 1-for-5 and Miles was 1-for-4.l Irving took a hard fall when he got sandwiched between Sanders and Mbah a Moute on a drive with 4:24 left in the first period. Irving was down for several minutes, but stayed in the game and made both free throws. The officials originally called a flagrant foul on Mbah a Moute, but changed it to a common foul after video review.l With 5:03 left in the second period, Varejao limped off and was briefly attended to on the bench by trainer Max Benton before the two headed to the locker room. He wasn’t on the floor to start the second half, but returned to action early in the third period.

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.