Woooweee that was ugly.
Cavs leaders: Points: Waiters, 23; Rebounds: Varejao, 10; Assists: Irving, 8
The Cavaliers came into this game against the Phoenix Suns all banged up and sick and such, but that didn't stop them in the first quarter. They got off to a ridiculous start, scoring on their first nine trips down the floor. After twelve minutes, Cleveland led by 16 points and had scored 37 in the the period. Anderson Varejao even had an absurd coast to coast reverse dunk on Marcin Gortat. It was quite fun.
After that, it was all downhill. There wasn't a particular burst in which the Cavs just let the thing go, but instead let the Suns slowly chip away at the lead. The second and third quarters saw the Cavs get outplayed in every facet of the game. The defense, in particular, was quite bad during this time. Phoenix scored 33 points in the second quarter and 27 in the third quarter. The defensive problems continued into the fourth quarter when the Suns finally tied the game and eventually took the lead thanks to 12 points from Shannon Brown. The Suns pulled ahead and Kyrie Irving missed the potential game-winning three at the buzzer. Cleveland dropped their second game in a row and fell to 2-4 on the season, 1-3 on this road trip from hell.
Goran Dragic got to the basket pretty much whenever he wanted and for some reason Shannon Brown is good now. It wasn't pretty.
There weren't many bright spots in this game for Cleveland. The exhaustion from various injuries and food poisoning was apparent, especially in Kyrie and C.J. Miles. Both looked completely gassed in the second half and continually had their shots blocked at the rim. Kyrie wasn't explosive going to the basket and it was obvious how tired he was. Anderson Varejao was invisible in the fourth quarter. The pick and roll defense broke down and he didn't score a point or collect a rebound in the final period.
The only reasons the Cavs were able to hold off collapse as long as they did were Dion Waiters and Daniel Gibson. Both guards were hitting shots when they were open and making good decisions when they weren't. Boobie hit five threes and scored 19 points in total. He's quietly putting together a real nice season so far. Dion completely took over in the beginning of the fourth, scoring 10 straight points, including two threes, a driving layup, and an open jumper off a screen. I continue to be impressed with his scoring ability and his ability to knock down big shots. He's totally fearless (which may or may not be a good thing). Dion clearly won't shoot over 50% from three for the entire season, but after a rough Summer League and preseason, it's good for him to have his confidence back. It's huge that the Cavs have another guy that can take over stretches of the game, especially when Kyrie doesn't have it going.
The Cavaliers failed all three of their keys to the game/season. They were out-rebounded, even on the offensive glass. They didn't get enough stops. And Kyrie didn't go crazy. We can add a fourth key, but they failed that as well: turnovers. Cleveland had 20 turnovers and allowed 22 fastbreak points. This team cannot win like that.
Fear The Sword's Player of the Game:
It's got to be Dion Waiters. He was the only one who played with energy from start to finish. You can tell he's becoming more and more comfortable in the offense and started to attack (and finish) at the rim last night. Good stuff from Dion.