CLEVELAND--The Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled with third quarters all season and it hampered them again on Friday.
The Memphis Grizzlies scored the first 10 points of the second half and the Cavs never recovered in a 103-92 loss at Quicken Loans Arena.
"Two words: third quarter.(It's) that simple," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "We have to figure out a way to regain that focus when we come back out. The game starts and we're still somewhere else until we get down and the game kind of catches our attention."
Kyrie Irving's jumper with 8:40 left was the Cavs' first basket of the third quarter. By then, their three-point lead at the half was gone and the Grizzlies led the rest of the night.
Scott doesn't have any answers as to why the Cavs continue to struggle with third quarters, but he's considering making substitutions quicker in the third quarter if guys continue to be lethargic to start second halves.
"I'll just take guys out and put other guys in," he said.
Irving scored 24 points while playing ill, but the Cavs were pushed around inside and one of Irving's four turnovers late in the fourth quarter was crucial.
The Cavs trailed by 11 to start the fourth quarter, pulled within four midway through and trailed 95-88 with 1:54 left when they forced a turnover, but Tony Allen quickly poked the ball away from Irving and Michael Conley scored at the other end to put the Grizzlies ahead 97-88 with 1:47 left. The Grizzlies have won 11 of their past 12.
Irving wasn't expected to play after suffering from flu-like symptoms late Thursday night. He missed the morning shootaround with a fever, but was re-examined prior to the game and given clearance to play. His driving layup with 5:37 left cut the Cavs deficit to 88-84, but they couldn't get any closer.
"We take care of the first, second and fourth, but if we can avoid third quarters like that and avoid getting in holes like that, we'd get a lot more wins," Irving said. "We were just out of rhythm in that third quarter. We've just got to find that rhythm in the third quarter that got us the lead in the first two quarters."
Marc Gasol had 22 points and Ed Davis had 12 for the Grizzlies. Those two also combined for 18 points in the third quarter and the Grizzlies outscored the Cavs inside 48-32 despite playing without All-Star Zach Randolph.
Wayne Ellington had seven points and Mo Speights had nine points and one rebound -- which he didn't grab until the fourth quarter-- in their first game against their former team. Speights also lacerated his elbow diving for a loose ball in the fourth quarter and needed two staples to close the wound.
Dion Waiters, in his first game back from the stomach flu, was a non-factor. He played 20 minutes, missed all four of his attempts and finished with three points, an assist and a rebound. Scott thought Allen, regarded as perhaps the league's best perimeter defender, had a lot to do with Waiters' problems.
"I feel a little dizzy and my stomach still hurts, but I just didn't feel like sitting out anymore so I thought I'd give it a go," Waiters said. "(Allen) denied me. He played good defense as far as denying me the ball, but I feel if I'd have gotten in more pick-and-roll situations, it would've been a different story.
"Anytime I had the ball off the screen, I was able to do something. … We didn't call it for me enough."
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