Kyrie Irving talked about how important these next few games were. He talked about how their opportunities were slipping away and how they had to make the most of these meaningful games. We've heard that kind of talk before from Kyrie, but on Wednesday night he backed it up. The 21-year old point guard turned in a solid all-around effort as the Cleveland Cavaliers secured a wire-to-wire 110-101 win over the Phoenix Suns on the road.
In my preview on Wednesday afternoon, I predicted that the Cavs would win this game. I didn't really believe it though. The Suns are a good team (although they are struggling lately) and the Cavs, on most nights, are not. But every now and then, we get a glimpse of what this team can do. It's pretty rare and hardly predictable, but there are stretches of competence that make me happy. Last night was one of those times.
Off to a hot start in Phoenix
Much like the Cavs' last game with the Suns, Cleveland jumped out to a big lead in the first half. They outscored the Suns 37-24 in the first quarter and the offense was rolling right along. Spencer Hawes led the charge with 17 points in the first quarter. However, Hawes was quiet after that frame. He left the game with an ankle sprain and didn't do much else once he returned.
Spencer Hawes has a left ankle sprain. He was retaped at halftime, will try to play in second half.— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) March 13, 2014
Hawes finished with 19 points and was 3 of 4 from behind the arc. He is now shooting 54.8% on threes since joining the Cavs. That's pretty nice. It's wildly unsustainable, but it's nice while it lasts.
Kyrie leads the way
Kyrie didn't have his best shooting night, but he contributed all over the court. He finished with 23 points, 6 assists, and 9 rebounds in 39 minutes. The rebounds were big because the Suns shoot so many three-pointers. Phoenix went 10 of 36 from long range and that means there were a lot of long rebounds. The rebounds that come off of three-point attempts bounce farther away from the basket. That means it's up to the guards to secure those rebounds. Kyrie had 9. Jarrett Jack had 4. Luol Deng also had 9. As a team, the Cavs out rebounded the Suns 51 to 36.
Kyrie also contributed on the defensive end. He was as aggressive on that end as I've ever seen him and it definitely helped the team. Kyrie has the ability to lead by example...he's still figuring it out. This performance made me pretty excited about Kyrie's future (even though I was already pretty damn excited about it).
Veteran help and some slick shooting
The Cavs finally got another productive game out of Luol Deng. He's *really* struggled with his shot since arriving in Cleveland, but Wednesday night was good. He scored 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting. The fact that he hit 3 of his 6 three-pointers is absolutely huge for the Cavs. I know that Deng hasn't been what we expected this year, but he deserves credit for a nice performance against the Suns.
Anderson Varejao was back in limited minutes and it was fantastic to see. He missed several games with a sore back and is slowly working his way back into his regular playing time. He only logged 15 minutes, but grabbed 7 boards and scored 6 points in that brief period. Oh and he posted this picture on Twitter after the game. It's so nice to have you back, Andy.
The Cavs shot 12 of 24 from behind the arc. In other words, they went into Phoenix and beat the Suns at their own game. The Suns have hit the 5th most threes in the NBA this year, but on Wednesday they hit just 10. The Cavs hit 12. And the Cavs attempted 12 fewer shots from long range. Even Matthew Dellavedova hit a three! No, seriously!
Head over to Bright Side Of The Sun for some Suns action.
This was a nice win for the Cavs, but they still have an extremely tough road ahead of them. The Detroit Pistons lost last night, so that's good. Cleveland is still 3.5 games out of the 8th seed and they're half a game behind the Knicks because New York beat the Boston Celtics last night.
The Cavs will continue their road trip when they travel to the Bay Area to play the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.