Tonight, I happened to be having dinner with my girlfriend at a trendy ramen restaurant, but similar alerts have been consistently finding me at similar times and in similar places since the last week of October. They go something like this:
You see, one thing I must give the 2013-2014 Cleveland Cavaliers – a team that I have come to absolutely loathe – is that they have been borderline pathological in their unwillingness to hit rock bottom.
The Kyrie-Tristan-Dion locker room fistfight, the 25-point December home loss to the Pistons, the Bynum implosion, the Anthony Bennett scoreless streak, the Anthony Bennett DNPs, the Anthony Bennett D-League speculation, Kyrie slowly but surely pushing his way out the door: Over the last three months, it is astounding how often I’ve looked down at my phone, thumbed through my Twitter, or opened an email link and found something I was sure had to be a final and absolute low watermark for this joke of a professional basketball team. Each time, I was wrong. Tonight was no different.
In a season of embarrassing lowlights, tonight takes the cake. This wasn’t just a 16-32 Cavs team losing to a 16-32 Lakers team. This was a Cavs team at full strength playing a Lakers team with 8 ACTIVE PLAYERS! 8!! This was a Cavs team with five top-5 picks (5!!!) playing a Lakers team reduced to starting Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre. This was a Cavs team playing in front of its home crowd against a Lakers squad that has lost 18 of its last 22 games. This was as close as a team with a .333 winning percentage gets to a gimme. And what happened?
- 33-year-old Steve Blake recorded the first triple double of his 13-year NBA career
- Ryan Kelly, the 48th pick of the 2013 Draft (47 spots behind Anthony Bennett) and the 4th best player on his college basketball team 9 months ago, recorded a career-high 26 points for the Lakers
- The Lakers built a 70-49 halftime lead despite a grand total of zero (0!!) minutes from Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and their 28 All-Star game appearances
- The 16-time NBA Champion Lakers set a team record for 3-pointers made, despite featuring probably the worst starting lineup in franchise history
- The toast of last summer’s USA Basketball training camp, Kyrie Irving, went 5-14 from the field, played good enough D to make Jordan Farmar look like Magic Johnson, and logged a -25 in 28 minutes before being benched in the third quarter
- After injuries suffered by Chris Kaman, Nick Young and Jordan Farmar (the team’s three best/most experienced active roster members entering the evening), the Lakers were forced to invoke a rarely-used rule to continue to play Robert Sacre despite six fouls simply in order to field the mandatory 5-man lineup
I would like to say it can’t get worse than this, but, at this point, I’ve learned better. Is it baseball season yet?