The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, marking their 23rd straight loss, which ties an NBA record. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The Cleveland Cavaliers tied a single-season NBA record by losing their 23rd consecutive game on Friday night, a 112-105 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. While their recent play resembles a car crash the losses aren't coming by accident.
The Cavaliers tied the Vancouver Grizzlies -- who lost 23 straight games in the 1995-1996 season -- and have a chance to tie the all-time record for consecutive losses overall, set by the Cavaliers during the 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 seasons. Their last win came on Dec. 18 against the New York Knicks. Incredibly, that was the only game the team has won during a 1-33 streak dating back to Nov. 30.
Friday's loss was fairly typical for Cleveland, as the undersized, undermanned Cavaliers couldn't keep pace with a bigger, stronger, more talented opponent. The Cavs disintegrated down the stretch as they were virtually unable to score in the fourth quarter. It was a particularly demoralizing end to the night as they had played energetically through the first three quarters, trailing the Grizzlies just 84-83 entering the final period.
The fourth quarter started ugly and stayed ugly for Cleveland, as they managed just a pair of Antawn Jamison free throws in the first 4:33 of the period while Memphis went on a 13-2 run to begin the period and push out its lead to double digits. On the evening, Cleveland played just eight players, due to the excused absence of guard Daniel Gibson, who has also been dealing with a quad injury recently, and that lack of depth showed down the stretch.
By the end of it, the Grizzlies looked fairly relieved to have escaped the FedEx Forum with the win; Dropping the game and snapping Cleveland's streak would have been another black mark on a season that already has included an in-game fight between teammates and a positive drug test for guard O.J. Mayo.
Memphis was a fairly tough opponent for the Cavaliers, as the pair of near All-Stars Zach Randolph (31 points and 13 rebounds) and Rudy Gay (26 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals, two blocks) represent big-time match-up problems for Cleveland, who couldn't hope to keep pace on the boards for four quarters. The Grizzlies, now 27-24 on the season, have also been playing solid basketball of late, winners of five in a row and eight of their last nine.
J.J. Hickson led the way for Cleveland with 31 points and 15 rebounds. Guard Ramon Sessions added 20 points and 11 assists.
Next up for Cleveland is what would appear to be a more favorable match-up: the Portland Trail Blazers. While the Blazers are just 1/2 game behind the Grizzlies in the Western Conference, they've been dogged by injuries recently and will not possess much of a height advantage down low. Portland is also not playing its best basketball of the season, as a 100-87 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night gave the Blazers their fourth loss in five games.
What's more, while the Cavaliers are dead last in the league in offensive efficiency, the Blazers have struggled to score lately, unable to top 100 points since a Jan. 20 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The team has been anemic from outside and unable to provide power forward LaMarcus Aldridge with much offensive support in the paint. Portland's front court rotation, aside from Aldridge, consists of the undersized Dante Cunningham, the still-rehabbing Joel Przybilla and the ineffective Sean Marks, as center Marcus Camby is out following knee surgery and D-League call-up Chris Johnson was not retained after a 10-day contract.
Put all of that together, and the Cavaliers, having lost franchise player LeBron James last summer and Anderson Varejao to injury earlier this year, really can't ask for a much better opponent than the cold-shooting, under-manned, under-sized Blazers, who will be coming into Cleveland to play on the second half of a back-to-back.
Should the Cavaliers lose to the Blazers, they will have the opportunity to set the NBA's all-time record for consecutive losses (regardless of whether it stretched over multiple seasons) during a Monday night game against the Mavericks in Dallas. The Mavericks, 34-15 on the year and in second place in the Southwest Division, would be the prohibitive favorites to help the Cavaliers make history.