It was sure nice to have Kyrie Irving back, wasn't it? Even if you didn't watch any of the Cleveland Cavaliers' games while Irving was sidelined with a broken index finger, you could tell last night that this team missed him. They played with an incredible energy and looked roughly a billion times smoother on offense. It was nice that Irving got to ease himself back into the NBA by facing such a weak opponent like the Los Angeles Lakers. Lots of guys stepped up for Cleveland and they topped the Lake Show, 100-94.
Cavs' Leaders: Points: Irving, 28; Assists: Irving, 11; Rebounds: Thompson, 10
Fun stuff and such:
I'll just start off by saying how much fun it is to watch the Lakers suck. Kobe Bryant and Mike D'Antoni both blew up in their post game interviews and they really can't figure out why they are so bad right now. It's pretty hilarious. And while I don't want to take anything away from how well the Cavs played last night, I'd be lying if I pretended that beating this Lakers team was some massive upset. They simply aren't good. Cleveland blew past LAL in the first half and led by 15 at halftime. And the Cavs weren't putting up ridiculous numbers on either end of the floor. The Lakers were just sloppy and careless and lazy on every other possession. 13 first-half turnovers led to 19 points for the Cavs. If not for the "Lakers" jerseys and terrible Dwight Howard headband, you'd think Cleveland was just throttling a crappy lottery team in the first half.
Kobe dropped some inappropriate language in his interview and Mike D'Antoni told a reporter he was "starting to piss him off." Fun for everybody.
On the Cavaliers side of the ball, it was much more fun. Kyrie Irving adds a dimension to this team that nobody else can bring. He contributed his regular dazzling moves and poured in an efficient 28 points on 11 of 21 shooting. He consistently reminded us that Chris Duhon is a pretty horrendous NBA player. But his 11 assists were just as important. He was seemingly always in control (which is incredibly impressive for a 20-year old who just missed 3 weeks) and made some sexy passes to take advantage of lazy defensive rotations. The bottom line is that Kyrie Irving is good at basketball and I really missed him.
With Dion Waiters still out with an ankle sprain, C.J. Miles got his first start of the season at shooting guard. After a pretty disappointing first month of the year, Miles is starting to come on. He had what was by far his best game as a Cavalier on Tuesday night when he dropped 28 points and hit 5 of his 10 three pointers. His shooting was much needed on a night that saw Daniel Gibson leave the game with a hyperextended elbow. Boobie didn't return and is questionable for tonight's game against the Indiana Pacers.
In the second half, the Lakers managed to slow down the pace of the game and the Cavaliers couldn't buy a bucket. Kobe Bryant started hitting some stupid Kobe Bryant shots and the lead evaporated. The Lakers got within three points before Kyrie drained a deep three at the buzzer to put Cleveland up six to start the final period. In the end, it was the Lakers' inability to get consecutive stops that doomed them. Every time Kobe hit a turnaround jump shot over 15958 defenders, the Cavs went right down the court and scored an easy bucket.
Cleveland kept Dwight Howard from taking over the game by hacking the crap out of him each time he touched the ball. Dwight finished with the quietest 19 points and 20 rebounds in the history of the NBA. Tyler Zeller actually played some pretty nice defense on Dwight. I've been critical of Zeller's defense so far this year, so this was really encouraging to see.
Some may claim that Tristan Thompson was a "non-factor" because he scored just 1 point. But his 10 rebounds and defensive presence were key reasons that the Cavs were able to win this game.
Fear The Sword's Player of the Game:
Kyrie Irving, duh.
The Cavs got their star back and immediately snapped their losing streak. Hopefully they'll get Waiters back soon and begin to look like a real NBA team on a consistent basis.