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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Game 44: Suns at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: These are the kind of games that get coaches fired.

Now, we all know that's probably not going to happen with Mike Brown, largely because he was hand-picked by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

But some of this stuff can't continue to go on. We thought we left all of these things behind when Byron Scott was fired. Instead, the same old stuff is going on.

These players, obviously, aren't listening to what the coaches are saying. Brown said the coaches huddled with the players at halftime, letting them know the good things they did in the first half when they led by 18 points.

Then the second half starts, and the players do the complete opposite.

What exactly is happening? The players must be tuning out what the coaches have to say. After playing so well in the first half when they took a 61-43 lead, I was skeptical if the Cavs were going to hold onto the lead. I even tweeted it out. Sure, it would be best for everyone involved if this team caught fire and started to win.

Instead, it appears to be headed to the lottery again, and heads will likely roll in the offseason.

That third quarter was embarrassing. The Cavs made just 2 of 22 shots (9 percent). They were outscored, 25-6. How can an NBA team score six points in 12 minutes? 

I quickly checked to see if it was an all-time low for the Cavs. That record is four points in a quarter.

To the casual fan, the Suns are a complete unknown. But there's a reason the Suns are the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and have been one of the league's surprise teams.

Much of their success should be traced to Coach Jeff Hornacek, who should garner some recognition for Coach of the Year. He probably won't win it, but he's put in a yeoman's effort. They might not have a lot of recognizable talent, but Hornacek has convinced them to play hard, defend and score at will.

On Jan. 22, the Suns blasted Indiana, 124-100. They shot 68.8 percent from the 3-point line against the league's top defensive.

They are starting a four-game East Coast swing that will continue in Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Indiana.

The Suns have won four in a row in the series, as well as six of the last seven. They swept the Cavs last season and in 2010-11.

Suns guard Goran Dragic is a human fastbreak. He's fifth in the NBA with 5.6 fastbreak points per game. He's having an outstanding season and is a natural scorer. He pushes the tempo and penetrates into the key and makes things happen.

Power forward Channing Frye lives at the 3-point line. He drained three consecutive 3s in the pivotal third quarter.

Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson doesn't like defending so far away from the basket.

The Cavs' defense will be tested by the Suns, who are seventh in the league in points scored. The big change is on defense, as Phoenix is in the middle of the pack on that side of the ball. In the past, they just tried to outscore teams. Now, they actually get stops.

This might have been the worst loss of the season for the Cavs, who are in the midst of a five-game homestand. If they can't do more than 1-3 on this homestand, it's going to be a long, long season.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host New Orleans at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Luol Deng (6-9, 220) vs. P.J. Tucker (6-6, 235)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Channing Frye (6-11, 255)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Miles Plumlee (6-11, 255)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Gerald Green (6-8, 210)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Goran Dragic (6-3, 195)
Cavs - G Sergey Karasev, G Carrick Felix
Suns - G Eric Bledsoe, C Emeka Okafor
Ron Garretson, Kevin Cutler, Leon Wood


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