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26 and Counting: Cavs Now Own Longest Losing Streak in Pro Sports History

Those who view the glass as half-full looked at the Cavaliers last four games (decided by a total of 21 points and featured two games that were decided on the final possession) and knew they were close to breaking through. That elusive win was coming sooner rather than later.

The next three games on the schedule were circled: vs. Detroit, vs. Los Angeles (Clippers), vs. Washington. Coming into tonight, the Pistons were 6-21 on the road, the Clippers were 3-18 and the Wizards were a disastrous 0-25. They were also kicking off an eight-game home stand that, thanks to the break from All-Star weekend, will keep them in Cleveland until March 4.

The Vegas oddmakers felt the same. Despite the record losing streak, the Cavs were actually 1.5-point favorites over Detroit.

But the effort displayed tonight was not the same sense of urgency the Cavs had in their last four games...and if the losing streak wasn't a strong enough indicator, they simply aren't good enough to win on talent alone.

Detroit took 18 more shots, grabbed 10 more offensive rebounds and scored 24 points off 17 Cleveland turnovers en route to a 103-94 win. The loss is Cleveland's 26th in a row, which now ties a record for the longest losing streak in any of the four major sports' history (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1976-78).

The Pistons outscored the Cavs in the final three minutes of the first, second and third quarters 27-13 and used that momentum to build a 16-point fourth quarter lead the Cavs couldn't erase.

"I find it very hard to deal with when guys don't come out ready to play," coach Byron Scott said afterwards.

"We had no sense of urgency and that kind of amazes me."

The Pistons jumped out to a nine-point lead at the end of the first and kept the Cavs at bay for a majority of the game. Rodney Stuckey led the way with 22 points and 4 assists off the bench. They had three reserves with 13 or more points - their bench outscored Cleveland's 61-17.

Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson were Cleveland's lone bright spot. Sessions had 20 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists and 5 steals. Hickson had 18 points, 15 rebounds and 4 assists, his sixth double-double in the last 10 games.

Even though the effort wasn't fully there, the Cavs were very much still in the game. They trailed just 71-68 and had the ball with about two and a half minutes to play in the third. But, as losing teams typically do (and the Cavs have done this multiple times in the last 53 days), they fell apart during a pivotal stretch.

Let's pick up the action with 2:35 to play in the third quarter and the Cavs down by 3, with the ball:

-----Down 71-68, 2:35 left in 3rd-----

  • Cavs get into a high pick-and-pop on the left wing with Sessions and Jamison. Sessions goes left and throws a lob to the weak-side for Eyenga, who made a great cut backdoor on Tayshaun Prince (who was helping on Hickson). Hickson goes up for the pass as well and may have distracted Eyenga just enough - the ball goes through his hands and Prince gets the steal. Detroit 71, Cleveland 68, 2:18 in 3rd


  • Prince uses a mismatch to post-up Gibson on the left block. Eyenga comes with the double-team from the block and Prince throws top of the key to Will Bynum. Both Eyenga and Gibson pick up Ben Wallace inside, leaving Prince wide open in the left corner. Eyenga flies out, Prince pump fakes and knocks down an easy 15-foot jumper. Detroit 73, Cleveland 68, 2:02 in 3rd


  • Sessions fakes like he's using a Hickson screen at the top of the key and drives middle. He tries to find Hickson diving in but throws a wild pass that Eyenga chases down near mid-court. With 6 on the shot clock he misses a pull-up 20-foot jumper over Prince and Greg Monroe rebounds. Detroit 73, Cleveland 68, 1:39 in 3rd


  • Bynum sets up at the top of the key. Stuckey starts on the left block and goes right, running off two screens from Prince on the block and Monroe on the wing. He catches and drives to the middle - Sessions is late on the help, Stuckey gets position on Gibson and draws the foul. He makes both free throws. Detroit 75, Cleveland 68, 1:27 in 3rd


  • Gibson swings it to the left to Jamison, who sets up Sessions on the left wing. The two run a pick-and-pop with Jamison heading baseline. Sessions finds an open Hickson, who slid from the left block across the paint, about eight feet from the hoop. J.J. passes on the quick open shot, hesitates, misses a wide open Eyenga in the right corner and settles for a jumper off the dribble fading to his left. He misses, Monroe rebounds. Detroit 75, Cleveland 68, 1:09 in 3rd


  • Detroit rushes down court and immediately posts up Stuckey on the right block against Gibson. Sessions and Hickson offer little help from the top of the key and Stuckey again goes left into the middle of the lane and draws a foul on Gibson, knocking down both FTs. Detroit 77, Cleveland 68, :59 in 3rd


  • Cavs run a pick-and-roll with Gibson and Hickson on the left elbow. Gibson swings left wing to Sessions, who fires a cross-court pass to a cutting Eyenga. This time, he catches and slams it. Detroit 77, Cleveland 70, :48 in 3rd


  • Detroit looks to isolate Stuckey on the right block again but Gibson does a nice job denying entry and forcing Stuckey to catch it at the three-point line. He takes one meaningless dribble and picks it up but Jamison, for some reason, comes at him with a half-hearted double-team even though Stuckey doesn't have a dribble. He throws to Daye at the top of the key and Sessions leaves Bynum on the left wing to help on Daye. Eyenga scrambles out to Bynum but Daye goes over him, hitting Prince in left corner for a wide open 3 with 1 on the shot clock. Detroit 80, Cleveland 70, :23 in 3rd


  • Sessions avoids a Hickson screen and dribbles the ball off his heel and out of bounds. Detroit 80, Cleveland 70, :7 in 3rd


  • Bynum rolls the ball in to save time and Sessions slips trying to rush up on him. Bynum quickly takes advantage of a 5-on-4 and finds Monroe inside, who is fouled by Gibson. He hits 1 of 2 FTs. Detroit 81, Cleveland 70, :03 in 3rd


  • Byron Scott calls timeout to set up an in-bounds play. They try to curl Gibson off a screen at mid-court but Detroit switches everything. They throw-in to Hickson, who pauses and fires upcourt to Eyenga. He doesn't get a shot off before the buzzer. Detroit 81, Cleveland 70, end of 3rd


  • Pistons get the ball to start the fourth and run a cross-up to get Stuckey posted up on the right block, but Gibson nice a noes job defending. They can't the ball to Stuckey until there's about 7 left on the shot clock. He turns for an 18-footer and misses badly - Jamario Moon rebounds. Detroit 81, Cleveland 70, 11:38 in 4th


  • Cavs run their pet play, a left wing pick & roll/pop with Sessions for their first possession. Ryan Hollins is the screener and slips inside. Sessions kicks opposite side to Jamison who immediately swings a pass in the right corner to an open Moon. The problem? Hollins is camped out in the middle, earning a three seconds call. Detroit 81, Cleveland 70, 11:26 in 4th


  • Bynum and Chris Wilcox run a pick-and-roll at the top of the key. Hollins shows help but turns his back while trying to recover to Wilcox, who dove toward the rim. Bynum crossover Sessions and gets position, driving to the hoop and drawing the foul. He makes both FTs. Detroit 83, Cleveland 70, 11:16 in 4th


  • Another pick-and-roll with Sessions and Hollins. The exact same scenario as the previous possession unfolds, with quick passing from Sessions to Jamison to Gibson, this time, on the right baseline. He gets a decent look at a 3 but misses and Daye rebounds. Detroit 83, Cleveland 70, 11:00 in 4th


  • After the ball is knocked out of bounds Detroit throws-in to Bynum, who dribbles aimlessly before finally settling at the top of the key. He gets a pick left from Charlie Villanueva. Jamison shows help and Sessions hesitates getting back on Bynum. The two nearly collide, leaving Villanueva open near the top of the key. He's a good 2-3 feet behind the line but drains the 3 anyway. Detroit 86, Cleveland 70, 10:46 in 4th


  • The exact same play for the Cavaliers for the third straight possession, only it's Jamison setting the screen and slipping baseline to the left corner. Sessions goes right wing to Moon, who throws to Gibson in the corner. Gibson is open for a second but fakes then goes back to Moon. Instead of keeping the ball reversal going to an open Sessions on the left wing, Moon holds the ball and eventually settles for a 20-foot pull-up jumper off the dribble. You can guess the result. Detroit 86, Cleveland 70, 10:28 in 4th


  • Detroit continues to push the ball up-court. Bynum gets in the lane and hands off to Wilcox at the foul line. Wilcox is out of his element - he pump fakes and settles for a pull-up 15-footer over Hollins. It's by far Detroit's worst possession in the last five minutes. Detroit 86, Cleveland 70, 10:16 in 4th


  • Sessions pulls down the rebound and pushes it up-court. Nobody picks him in transition and he slides under Daye and over Stuckey down the right side for a lay-up. Detroit 86, Cleveland 72, 10:10 in 4th


  • High pick-and-roll with Bynum and Wilcox. Most good defensive teams would be licking their chops if the Pistons pulled this in the 4th quarter...but the Cavs aren't one of them. Hollins shows and Wilcox slips inside, forcing Moon to come down and help on the right block. Bynum pulls up, throws to a wide open (notice the trend) Daye, who buries a 3 on the wing. Detroit 89, Cleveland 72, 9:46 in 4th


  • Sessions again forces the pace up-court and draws a foul on Bynum. Moon in-bounds right corner to Gibson - Stuckey plays off him and Gibson hits the 3. Detroit 89, Cleveland 75, 9:33 in 4th


  • Pistons lob it to Wilcox on the right elbow extended. Bynum tries to peel off and cut to the basket, but the officials rule Wilcox stuck his hip out and checked Sessions. Offensive foul. Detroit 89, Cleveland 75, 9:15 in 4th


  • Another pick-and-pop on the left wing with Sessions and Jamison. The Cavs have run this play in every half-court set so far in the 4th quarter. Jamison finally gets it baseline and drives middle, missing a flip shot but drawing a foul on Villanueva. He makes 1 of 2. Detroit 89, Cleveland 76, 9:02 in 4th


  • Bynum hands to Stuckey at the top of the key. He goes off a Wilcox screen towards the hoop and loops around to the left corner. Wilcox then comes off his screen on Bynum to give Stuckey an on-ball screen. Hollins shows and Sessions stays under the rim to pick up Wilcox. Stuckey goes in the left corner to an open Bynum, who misses the 3 but the ball is back-tapped by Wilcox (Hollins is once again out of position). They run the same play with Stuckey and Wilcox, this time going left. The Cavs force Stuckey out well past the 3-point line, so he turns and goes right off yet another Wilcox screen. Wilcox slips, Sessions once again has to give help for Hollins, and Bynum doesn't miss this one. Dagger. Detroit 92, Cleveland 76, 8:27 in 4th


I've talked about margin of error virtually all season. This just proves how little, if any, the Cavs have. They were outscored 21-8 in just under six minutes, giving up points on 9 of Detroit's 12 possesions and turning a 3-point deficit into 16. They simply don't have the firepower to respond to a run like that.

History will be made again Friday night against the Clippers: either the Cavs will finally snap this streak or it'll extend to 27 games and become the longest in the history of U.S. professional sports.


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