September 15, 2014

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Cavs can’t get enough guys to play well in latest loss to 76ers

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers need more guys to play well, and they need them to do it for an entire game.

That didn’t happen Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena, where Cleveland fell 97-87 to the Philadelphia 76ers in front of 17,324 fans.

The Cavs (22-49), who continue to be without injured starters Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters, now have a season-high seven game losing streak with 11 games left to play.

“The biggest thing with us right now is we need six, seven guys to play really well,” Scott said. “Tonight, we didn’t have six, seven guys play really well.”

The Cavs didn’t even come close to that on a night when their starting lineup got outscored 84-50 by Philadelphia’s.

Rookie center Tyler Zeller had 14 points and 10 rebounds, but the only other Cleveland player who had a solid night was reserve C.J. Miles, who had a team-high 19 points.

“I’ve seen it in spurts,” Scott said of numerous players performing well at the same time. “If I see it in spurts, there’s the possibility it can be done for 48 minutes.”

Power forward Tristan Thompson was particularly bad, going 4-for-11 from the field and 2-for-7 at the foul line. He had five rebounds and played just 23 minutes.

“He struggled big-time on both ends,” Scott said.

Thompson, who had been making big strides until a few weeks ago, was 3-for-10 from the floor and 1-for-6 at the line in the first half, when he got so many shots blocked he brought back memories of Shawn Kemp at the end of his career.

“When the ball got to him, it stuck,” Scott said. “I thought he was trying to do too much. Then he didn’t get back on defense.”

The latter became a team-wide malady late in the second quarter. Cleveland was up 45-36, but the 76ers went on a 20-2 run — 9-0 to end the first half and 11-2 to start the third period — to take total control of the game. Philadelphia scored those 20 points in just 4:55.

“I’m getting tired of seeing it in the paper and I’m getting tired of saying it,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to man up and come together and control these mistakes.”

That certainly didn’t happen Friday. When all was said and done, Philadelphia (29-43) had scored 61 points in the final 25:42. The Cavs, by contrast, had 63 points over the final three quarters.

“We got to the point where we stopped moving the ball,” Scott said. “We just got stagnant.

“Then it affected us on the other end,” he added. “They started getting some easy buckets.”

Former Ohio State star Evan Turner led the 76ers with 23 points, 13 rebounds and four assists — “He’s a pretty good player,” Scott said of the small forward — while point guard Jrue Holiday had 20 points, five rebounds and six assists.

Philadelphia also got 18 points and six rebounds from power forward Thaddeus Young and 16 points, 11 boards and five assists from center Spencer Hawes.

The Cavs, meanwhile, had nowhere to turn, as their starting backcourt of Wayne Ellington (5-for-14) and Shaun Livingston (5-15) combined to go 9-for-29. Small forward Alonzo Gee was 3-for-10, meaning Cleveland starters not named Zeller went 17-for-50.

“The only way we’re going to win right now is as a team,” Scott said. “We can’t iso Kyrie at the top and say, ‘Get us some points.’”

The Cavs have now dropped 11 of their last 13 games, and the last four have been particularly appalling, starting with blowing a 27-point, third-quarter lead at home against LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

That was followed by a 38-point loss in Houston, blowing a 14-point lead in the last eight minutes at home against Boston and the Philadelphia game.

“It’s going to test the kind of character we have in that locker room,” Scott said. “It’s very simple: We’re going to see if guys go south or north or wherever.”

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