PHEW! What…a…game! MAN is it good to have Kyrie back!
The Cavs came out FIRING in the first half thanks, in large part, to Kyrie’s 7 assists and a crazy first half from Miles, and lead by 15 going into the 3rd quarter. After only scoring 14 (to LA’s 23) in the third, the Cavs held off the comeback, winning the game 100-94.
Kyrie Irving – THANK YOU BASKETBALL GODS, FOR RETURNING KYRIE! Kyrie had a ridiculous night – 28 points (on 11-21 shooting, including 4-6 from downtown), 11 Assists, and 6 rebounds, along with a steal. Not only did he clearly not miss a beat during his four weeks off, he looked invigorated and confident. What’s more, Kyrie’s D was actually passable in this game – he still got beat once in a while, but instead of just watching, tried to catch his loose man. Really, Kyrie was playing with more intensity than I’ve ever seen him on the D end. This was probably his best showing of the season. Man am I glad he’s back!
Andy – With all due respect to Kyrie and his absurd game, it was Andy who played the clutch role in the fourth quarter, snagging a beautiful rebound, hitting a clutch 12 footer and sinking two HUGE free throws. He and Kyrie picked up where they left off on the pick and roll and, after a few lackluster games (for him), Andy finally looked back in his comfort zone on O. As always his D was great, getting into Dwight’s head and disrupting all the action under the rim (even causing a bunch of Dwight turnovers.) Unfortunately, Andy fell short of a double double, partially due to the fact that Howard had 20(!) rebounds. Oh yeah, Andy had a RIDICULOUS dunk on Jordan Hill after faking out Dwight Howard. FUN!
CJ Miles – Despite Kyrie’s return and despite Andy’s phenomenal game, the biggest story of the night is probably the fact that Miles absolutely WENT OFF for 28 points (a team high) on 10-18 shooting (including 5-10 from downtown) and chipped in 5 rebounds to boot. If Miles keeps playing like this, we might have ourselves something, here.
Tyler Zeller’s D – I KNOW Tom noticed but, did anyone else? Zeller was disrupting an inordinate number of Dwight Howard shots. He was physical and fearless in defending someone much bigger and stronger than he. His long twos weren’t falling, but it didn’t matter, Zeller’s impact on D was enough to make him very valuable in this game.
Alonzo Gee – Yeah, he had 17 points (on 6-14 shooting, which isn’t great) and yeah he was playing a Kobe Bryant who was clearly channeling his younger self, but it’s not supposed to look this bad. While Kobe’s shooting was absurd, Gee got beat far too many times, missed some key switches (letting Kyrie pick up Kobe far too much) and bit on pretty much all of Kobe’s fakes. He’s allowed to have off nights, but to the tune of 42 points? When he’s our best defender? C’mon!
Jeremy Pargo – OUCH. Seriously…Ouch. We may have spoken too soon on the Pargo = backup discussion. Keep an eye on this in the future. (Side note: Pargo was the only Cavalier who was – in +/-)
The Cavs Bench in General, Minus Tyler Zeller – I mean…Minus Zeller, they didn’t score a point.
The Lakers Traveling Plans – Apparently extensive. I definitely saw them walk more than a few times (so did the refs). What’s up with that?
Andy’s Rebounding – Obviously Dwight played a huge role in Andy’s ability to rebound, but isn’t it amazing how Kryie’s impact on dictating offense leads to better scoring, which, in turn leads to fewer Andy rebounds? Varejao only had 2 O boards, by far his lowest since we lost Kyrie to injury. Hmmmm….
Note how I didn’t mention Tristan? That’s because he was a complete non-factor, minus some very good rebounding numbers. He looked fine and all, but definitely didn’t wow anyone. And 1 point? Really?
Tomorrow the Cavs face off against the Pacers @ Indianapolis. After tonight, there’s hope again. As always…GO CAVS!