Kyrie Irving made his highly anticipated comeback after missing the last 11 games with a broken finger, and he was just as good as remembered. Leading the charge, the Cavaliers floor general finished with 28 points, 11 assists, and plenty of jaws dropped. The second year player dazzled on isolation plays repeatedly throughout the night. Any fans concerned there might be rust in Kyrie’s game need not worry; Uncle Drew is back.
Kyrie’s tenacity seemed to be contagious, and the rest of the Cavaliers played tough, inspired basketball. C.J. Miles in his first start of the year matched Irving with 28 points. Byron Scott played him at forward, as he continues to tinker with the starters while Waiters is injured. Pargo or Gibson have been seeing starts, but have been inconsistent. Varejao had 20 points, but surprisingly only 9 rebounds. Alonzo Gee had himself a night, continually working Kobe (maybe he should challenge Bryant to a $50,000 1-on-1 game) and putting down a 17 in the points box.
Cleveland’s bench remained quiet, with only Tyler Zeller making noticeable contributions. He had six points and 6 rebounds. Omri Casspi, Jeremy Pargo, and Daniel Gibson went a combined 0-9 from the field.
As great as this win seems, it remains a confusing one. Were the Cavaliers that great offensively, or were the Lakers that bad defensively? Lakers Coach Mike D’Antonio had publicly criticized the Lakers’ defense prior to the matchup, and they did seem very sluggish and unenthusiastic throughout most of the game. The third quarter was a different story; Cavs were held to 14 points and shot 22.7%. That wasn’t enough though, as the Cavs averaged almost 29 points in the other quarters.
Los Angeles also had 18 turnovers on the night, and sloppy plays were made all game by a multitude of players, including Bryant and Dwight Howard. Howard was visibly frustrated by Cleveland’s constant double and triple teams, and he was only 3-9 from the field. Somehow he still managed to put up 19 points and grab 20 boards. Kobe dropped 42, and the Lakers dropped to 1-10 when he scores over 30 points in a game.
Cleveland now travels to Indiana to take on the Pacers tonight. The Pacers are 10-11, but are a very good defensive team. They are 3rd in points allowed per game (91.8), and they lead the league in rebounding (46.3 per game). Their offensive attack has struggled to find their identity and in turn is having trouble scoring. Currently they rank 29th in points per game with 90.8. So the question of whether Cleveland’s offense is for real now that Irving is back might be answered tonight. The game tips at 7pm.
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