Holy rookie performances, Batman! The Cleveland Cavaliers were placed on the back of our two first round draft picks and carried through 48 minutes on the way to a 105-100 victory. The victory over the New Jersey Nets snapped a three-game losing streak and brought the Cavs record to 17-26 on the season, officially passing my predicted win total for 2011-12.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Thompson, 27; Rebounds: Jamison, 13; Assists: Irving, 7
Did any of you want the Cavs to draft Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight/Kemba Walker? If so, shame on you. In Tristan Thompson's second career start, he absolutely torched the Nets' front court. He blew past his previous career-high in points and dropped 27 big ones to go along with 12 rebounds, eight (8!!!!) of which were on the offensive glass. He still doesn't have much that resembles a polished post game, but he can do two things that are very useful in the game of basketball: A) jump really high B) dunk really hard. He's good at those things and when you put those skills in a body that has a nonstop motor and relentless hustle, good things happen. Even if Tristan never develops a more well-rounded offensive game (highly unlikely), he can make a living in this league just grabbing offensive boards and dunking on people's heads.
Kyrie Irving did his usual thing, scoring 26 points (14 in the fourth quarter (holy shit, 14 in the fourth quarter? How does he always do that??)) and tossed in 7 assists and 5 rebounds. He didn't have a super efficient shooting night, but he still finished 8 of 20 from the field (slightly under 50%). Kyrie and Tristan also connected on an alley-oop. It was awesome. By the way, Kyrie turns 20 on Friday. TWENTY. This kid can't walk into a bar and order a beer! And he's just toasting NBA players on a regular basis. When Kyrie is 4 years into the league, we're going to be saying things like "Kyrie's veteran presence is really helping the younger players on this team" and he'll be 23 years old! This is blowing my mind.
Antawn Jamison had a horrrriiibbblllleeee night shooting the ball. He was 5 of 20, yet managed to lead the team in rebounds with 13. If he is slightly less terrible last night, the Cavs run away with a victory. Instead, it was pretty close and they needed Kyrie to drain some free throws late in the fourth quarter to ice it. No bigger, Kyrie has missed SEVEN free throws in the past two months.
I enjoyed what I saw out of Donald Sloan and Samardo Samuels. Samuels, in particular, looked quite active and was hustling every bit as much as Tristan. He wound up with a nice game, scoring 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting and grabbing 6 rebounds in just 19 minutes. That's fun. Sloan looked like he belonged on an NBA court. He was aggressive with the ball, but not to the point that he was careless. In 20 minutes off the bench, Sloan scored 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting and dropped a dime. Perhaps most importantly, he didn't commit a turnover.
I'm running out of time before my class starts so I'll finish up in rapid fire fashion. Alonzo Gee played pretty poorly. Ryan Hollins didn't play at all. Neither did Semih Erden. Manny Harris was inactive for this game due to a lineup card error. Daniel Gibson got hurt and went to the locker room, no word on his status yet.
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
He was a total beast. He dunked on every one and looked very very comfortable out there. I'm not sold on the idea of him as a starting center, but he certainly performed well last night (maybe he just needs to play against the Nets every night). The rookies combined for 53 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists. Whoa.