x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cavaliers just cannot win in NBA

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their way into the NBA record book in fitting fashion - not with a blowout, but with the kind of head-slapping plays typical of a team that cannot seem to do anything right.

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their way into the NBA record book in fitting fashion - not with a blowout, but with the kind of head-slapping plays typical of a team that cannot seem to do anything right.

Like a 7ft centre losing a jump ball to a 6ft 2ins guard.

And a player deciding to pass as time expired instead of putting up a shot.

The miscues doomed the Cavaliers to a 99-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, making it 25 consecutive losses, the most in league history.

Cleveland set the single-season futility record a few days ago, but the league also keeps an overall record that takes into account skids stretched over two seasons. This topped that one, too, which was also set by the Cavaliers.

"We're in the record books, we all know that, something we don't want to be a part of, but you can't go back and turn back the hands of time," Antawn Jamison, the forward said. "We've got to worry about moving forward. The most important thing is getting a win."

They had a chance to get this one, even against a team that came in with the NBA's longest active winning streak. The Cavs led by seven in the first quarter, went down by 15, but kept clawing back. They tied it early in the fourth quarter, then were down only 80-79 when Ryan Hollins, the centre, lined up for a jump ball against Jason Terry, the Dallas guard.

It was an odd scene. Terry crouched a bit to get more leverage into his jump and his head was around the logo on his opponent's jersey. Yet the smaller man got to the ball first, timing his jump so that he popped it to a teammate before it got up to Hollins. Terry actually hit it before the toss reached its peak, which is known as "stealing" a jump ball.

"Steal it? Well, I got two steals and I only remember getting one, so they must have given me one for that one," Terry said. "I don't know how I outjumped Hollins."

The Mavs stretched the lead back to 10 points, but the Cavs fought back again. A turnover by Dirk Nowitzki with about 10 seconds left gave Cleveland the ball with a chance to tie. Anthony Parker had a good look at the basket from a few steps behind the top of the key and put up a shot that danced around the rim but refused to fall.

"It was right on the money, right on line when I let it go," Parker said. "I got my feet into it, my legs into it, had a good look, thought it was going down. Even when it hit the front end of the rim, I still thought it would hit the backboard and trickle in, but it didn't happen."

Jamison got the rebound with about two seconds left and passed to Jamario Moon for another three-pointer. But Moon wanted Jamison to take it, so he passed the ball back. Mistake. The game was over.

"Unfortunately, we didn't recognise the time situation. We weren't aggressive enough," Jamison said. "It's another way to come out on the other end of the stick."

Jamison and Moon put their hands on their heads, elbows out, in shame and disbelief. Hollins walked off with a towel stretched across the top of his head and the same pained look. It was Cleveland's fourth successive loss by seven points or less.

"Once you are in a funk - I was in it my first two years - it almost seems like you find a way to lose," Nowitzki, the Mavericks player, said. "That last post-session was a perfect example."

Since starting 7-9, the Cavs are 1-35. Their last win was on December 18, more than seven weeks ago. Their only glimmer of hope is that the next seven games are at home, where their .227 winning percentage is more than double their success rate on the road.

"The guys are upset and rightfully so," Byron Scott, the coach, said. "I like that fact that guys are caring about the fact that we're losing some close games."

Some of the frustration came out in hard fouls. Hickson threw a screen that sent DeShawn Stevenson into the locker room for treatment and Hollins wrapped his arms around Tyson Chandler's neck on another play. Nothing more than a foul was called on either play. In the fourth quarter, Nowitzki seemed to retaliate with a near-punch on Ramon Sessions that also was called a regular foul.

"Punch? No," Nowitzki said. "It was nothing."