Almost nothing has gone right for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, but perhaps nothing has gone wrong as thoroughly and crushingly as the end of their game against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. In a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee, Cleveland trailed by three points with 2.8 seconds left. The Cavs had just gotten a gift from the basketball gods, two missed Monta Ellis free throws that could have put them away. The plan: inbound the ball, shoot a three, hope for overtime.
Cleveland never got past that first bit, as guard Jarrett Jack failed to pass the ball inbounds in time and the team was called for a five-second violation:
After that, Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown had to instruct his team to foul. Ellis was sent back to the line again with 1.1 seconds left, and he promptly made both. A meaningless missed three from Jack made it a 102-97 win for Dallas.
Cleveland had fought back from a 24-point deficit and ended up outscoring the Mavericks 60-43 in the second half. The Cavs limited the Mavs to 35 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, and they wasted Anderson Varejao's 10-point, 11-rebound final frame. The big man finished with 18 points and 21 rebounds, while point guard Kyrie Irving had 26 points and nine assists and power forward Tristan Thompson added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The loss drops Cleveland to 15-26 and 11th place in the Eastern Conference.