Something, anything that coach Doug Collins hoped to be a positive for this team going into the season has not come to fruition thus far.
"One of the things we thought was going to be really good for us this year was points off turnovers differential, and tonight we were minus-13 [19-6]," said Collins, whose club fell for the ninth time in 11 games. "That's a killer. This team is very much a precision offensive team. They spread you out, they run the Princeton offense and they move that ball and they've got a lot of tough covers."
Against the Sixers, they do, but with names like Moon and J.J. Hickson and Anthony Parker and Ramon Sessions littering the Cavs lineup, you wouldn't think defensive stoppages would be as rare as wins.
"We had a miserable third quarter, 26-16," Collins said. "I look at our coaches all the time asking, 'Who can I try?' And that's a tough thing. I'm still trying to sort through it.
"Their bench has been very good. I think that's the 10th time they have outscored their opponents. Joey Graham [13 points] got started, posted up and then his jump shot started falling. Then Jamario Moon made every shot. They had a couple shots at the end of [shot] clocks when they threw a three up and they went in and then Ryan Hollins went up and hit a hook shot [just before the shot clock expired]. When you give teams easy scores, then it opens up that basket."
It opens it up like the Red Sea with Moses standing close by. And when a team like the Cavs starts draining shots from all over the floor with regularity, the defense gets more frustrated and more out of position and makes every possession seem like a game of HORSE - when a team can take a shot from wherever they want.
"We just aren't protecting the basket very well right now," said forward Andres Nocioni, who started in place of Andre Iguodala, out with tendinitis in his right Achilles' tendon. "We are not protecting the paint. Right now everyone can drive, so when they start to make layups, others start to feel comfortable about making their shots and then everything comes together. We need to play better in the paint and be able to close out better."
Part of the problem is that Iguodala, one of the team's best defenders when healthy, hasn't been on the floor much lately, missing his third game in the past six.
"We lose a big weapon when Andre doesn't play," Collins said. "He's a big part of pressuring the ball, and we need to do those things to get out in the open court."
And the Sixers right now need a lot more than just that.
For the first half, this one felt much like a play-out-the-string game, one that's usually reserved for late March, a meeting between teams that have no chance at postseason play. But the Cavs strung together an 11-0 run that basically was the difference for the rest of the game as the Sixers got no closer than seven.
Thaddeus Young had his third straight double-figure game for the Sixers, putting up a team-high 17 points, while rookie Evan Turner collected 16 points and nine rebounds. Elton Brand finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Nocioni added 12 and Jrue Holiday had 11 points and 10 assists.
But none of that was enough. Not much has been so far this season.
"I think right now everything is going bad," Nocioni said. "I think we need to keep working, think about what we're doing wrong. We have a game [tonight against 2-9 Toronto]. We can fix it."
If only it were that easy.
Ohio State product Evan Turner
got a nice round of applause when announced before the game . . . Color analyst Eric Snow
was back in the booth with play-by-play man Marc Zumoff
after recovering from illness . . . Though there is no LeBron James
, the Cavs sold out for the sixth straight home game.
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