Cavs Content With Effort, Not Result, in Miami Heat Re-Match
There may be few moral victories in the NBA, but the Cavs knew they had played their best basketball in weeks, no doubt fueled by playing against their former teammate LeBron James. Despite their best efforts, though, the Heat's talent was eventually too much to withstand for the entire game.
"Tonight is a tough loss because we gave ourselves a chance to win the game," said forward Anderson Varejao, who nonetheless chose to look forward. "I think it was the right way. We played with a lot of effort tonight, we played hard and if we do that every night we're going to be fine."
The Cavs rank in the bottom of the league in just about every major statistical category, but they still had one of the league's hottest teams on the ropes for the majority of the game. After what seemed like an eternity since their first game of the season when they defied expectations to beat the Boston Celtics 95-87 on Oct. 27 -- and despite double-digit beatdowns in seven of their eight consecutive losses heading into the rematch Wednesday night with Miami -- Cleveland's players chose to stay positive despite yet another loss.
"We said here we wanted to take a step in the right direction, and I can honestly say we did (Wednesday)," Mo Williams said. "With all things said, (the Heat are) a good basketball team that we just played tonight on their home floor. You take a young team on the road in this environment and put yourself in a position to win. We got to look at what got you in that position and it was defense. We gave them what we wanted to give them. The difficulty of the shots that LeBron and D-Wade was taking, we couldn't be more happy with it."
"I think that has to be the standard in terms of our energy and our focus," Anthony Parker said. "I think we wanted to come out and take steps forward. We'd be lying if we didn't talk about the last game (against the Heat) and how we felt after that game but that was then. We wanted to turn a new page, come in and we wanted to play well and we did. They got some good players and made some plays down the stretch. We had some good looks that unfortunately didn't go in and that was the difference."
Before the game, head coach Byron Scott had expressed some frustration with the players who have been slow to acclimate themselves to his new system. Yet there were plenty of moments against the Heat where his men were in tune with his philosophy. Part of that stemmed from channeling their motivation to do well against their familiar foe into good use by staying aggressive in every play.
"Even on breaks, we let guys know (there would be) no easy layups," said Williams. "We got to take this approach every game and have this animosity with any other team. If we're going to be categorized as a physical, nasty team then so be it. We showed sportsmanship, there was no trash talking.
"I think that's one thing that we can take from this game that can carry us a long way. That will intimidate some teams."