When we look back at the 2016-17 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 90-82 win against New Orleans Pelicans on Monday may go down as the Kay Felder game.
Felder, the Cavaliers’ diminutive second round pick from Oakland University, came off the bench and scored 12 points with Kyrie Irving missing his second straight game due to a hamstring injury. Eight of his points came in the fourth, including four points that came on back-to-back possessions after he subbed in for LeBron James with 11:02 left in the fourth quarter.
He was also a key part of a Cavs bench unit that outscored the Pelicans’ 34-20. Three Cavaliers - Felder, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye - came off the bench to score in double figures. During a key fourth quarter stretch, Cleveland outscored the Pelicans by four points while LeBron sat on the bench. The Cavs also outscored the Pelicans 23-13 over the final 12 minutes to seal the game with Felder, Jefferson and Frye in for a few starters.
For his part, LeBron finished with 26 points, six assists and seven rebounds. Kevin Love, who coach Tyronn Lue said has lost 10 pounds over the past two days due to food poisoning, struggled and didn’t play for the last part of the fourth quarter. In 24 minutes, Love had 12 points and 11 rebounds. He finished 5-19 from the field and 0-7 from three. Anthony Davis and rookie Buddy Hield co-lead New Orleans with 20 points apiece.
For the night, Cleveland finished shooting just 37.8 percent from the field. That percentage is the third worst shooting performance by the team this season. The Cavs also shot 23.1 percent during the first quarter, the team’s worst shooting percentage in a single quarter in six years. As a result, Cleveland trailed New Orleans 22-15 after one.
And Felder, making an impact for the second straight game, was a big part of the Cavs’ turning that deficit around with Irving there to bail them out.
Next up for the Cavs is a home game against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.