David Blatt takes Cavaliers bowling instead of to practice, result is two straight wins in Los Angeles

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The Cavaliers put together two straight wins on back-to-back nights at the Staples Center, the first coming in an entertaining contest against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, and the second coming in a shootout against a pretty good team in the L.A. Clippers.

The team’s much-maligned head coach, David Blatt, may have had something to do with that.

Cleveland has been under plenty of scrutiny lately, and came into this trip one game under .500 in the standings, essentially at the halfway point of the season. The pressure was mounting, so Blatt decided to relieve some of it by skipping a recent practice.

From Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

The Cleveland Cavaliers were of the understanding that they were on their way to practice on the campus of UCLA on Wednesday afternoon.

The team was reeling, coming off of losing its sixth straight game and a grueling practice was the anticipation. But what should have been a six-minute bus ride from their Beverly Hills hotel to the campus turned into 10, then 15, then a 20-minute ride. …

Head coach David Blatt had something up his sleeve. When the bus finally stopped, it was in front of a bowling establishment in Hollywood. To their shock, they learned practice was never in the plans. It was about getting away from basketball and bonding as a team. …

“I think it was a surprise for most guys,” Kevin Love said. “It just helped so much. We all needed a break from it all.”

Part of being a head coach at the professional level, maybe one of the biggest parts, has nothing to do with Xs and Os. It’s about managing player egos, and knowing what buttons to push to maximize the output you can get from your guys on a somewhat consistent basis.

It’s what Phil Jackson did best during his coaching days, and it’s why he was able to win 11 championships.

Blatt has a long way to go in that regard, but this latest move shows that at the very least, he knows what he’s doing more than some observers believed, and after two straight road victories, he may be on the right track.