Posted Feb 8 2011 11:48AM
DALLAS -- Even if records are made to be broken, the Cavaliers want to keep this one safely tucked in Cleveland for a long time. Not that they're being selfish.
They're just being compassionate.
"You never want anyone to go through this," said Antawn Jamison, the Cavaliers' leading scorer. "It's one of those unfortunate things. We're all part of it and I can not fathom having another team lose this many in row. It's the toughest thing in the world, especially on this level competing night in and night out."
The post-LeBron Cavs have dropped their last 25 -- the longest losing streak in NBA history. Misery may love company. There's no doubt the collective Cleveland psyche would prefer another city's name sit alongside the ultimate record of futility.
The players, though, don't necessarily want to see another team snatch away this dubious mark. (Ironically, the old record of 24, spanning from end of the 1981-82 season into the 1982-83 season, was set by Cleveland.) The Cavs are living through this. They're the ones answering the questions every day. They're the ones heading to the locker room every night wondering when.
They wouldn't wish this on their worst enemy. Not even the Heat.
Cleveland's drought continued with Monday's 99-96 setback to the Mavericks. As has been the case lately, the Cavs were in the game. Cleveland took as much as a seven-point lead early. The score was tied with nine minutes left before the Cavs hit the kind of dry spell that's become all too common.
"That's the frustrating part," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "We're right there and had opportunities."
Scott hasn't shied away from the streak or danced around questions. As the losses have piled up, the coach, in his first year with the Cavs, has patiently answered anything anyone has wanted to know about the days after Dec. 18's 109-102 overtime victory over New York.
"All the guys that have been here before that were used to winning over the last few years, probably took it for granted," said Scott, who played on the Grizzlies' 1995-96 expansion-team squad that lost 23 straight.
"You'll start to realize that when we get back on track, that you appreciate winning more. You really do appreciate the fact that when you do win games, you just don't go home and it's no big deal to you. And I think that's where we're going to get to."
Jamison saw playoff potential in the Cleveland locker room before the season. At 8-44, a losing season has already been clinched and the Draft lottery isn't far off. Can there be a positive in this mess?
"It's drawn us closer as a group," Jamison said. "We're all going through this together. We're not making excuses, we're not keeping our shoulders down or hanging our heads. We're still competing. We're a close-knit group and hopefully something good will come of this. We'll see."
Jamison said that something such as this can leave a permanent mark.
"I pride myself on competing and doing it the right way, but you also want to be known as a winner," said Jamison, a 13-year vet. "With this record, it kind of takes away from that. This has been the toughest thing I've been through. I would never want anyone to experience this ever again. We're in it, our names are in it, so we just have to take it for what it is."
Scott is just waiting for the snowball to start rolling in the other direction.
"When you start winning games, you try to savor that moment for as long as possible until the next day when you have practice and you get ready for another game, and you want to continue to have that feeling," he said. "In the long run, I think it's going to benefit a lot of guys in that locker room."
The Cavs had the best regular-season record in the league the last two seasons. They reached the playoffs five consecutive years and The Finals once. They also had a certain two-time MVP who not only took his talents south, but maybe the Cavs' fortunes.
Some call this cosmic payback for Dan Gilbert's ill-advised, LeBron-bashing, post-Decision letter. But not having Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams and Leon Powe is closer to the reason that the Cavs haven't won in so long.
Still, everyone falls into a win at some point, right?
"What I keep telling them is the fact that we're right there," Scott said. "We've just got to keep playing, keep pushing forward. Like I said to our guys, in the long run -- I know they don't see it now -- but it's probably going to be the best thing that ever happened for us. We're going to come out of this thing and we're going to be better for it.
"It's not a matter if we'll win one, it's when."
The next three for Cleveland appear winnable, with home games against Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington.
"I feel if we get this one win, we'll be alright," point guard Ramon Sessions said. "We have Detroit coming in on Wednesday and need to take care of business."
The Wizards know Cleveland's pain. Washington is still winless on the road this season (0-25). The Wizards play at Cleveland on Sunday.
Like it or not, misery will have company in that one.
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