Despite an ugly second quarter, in which the Cleveland Cavaliers (6-6) were outscored by 18 points, the Wine and Gold finished off their longest road trip of the season with a 102-94 win against the Charlotte Bobcats (3-11).
Cleveland finished their cross-country hike with a 3-4 mark, a hike that began with a 92-77 loss up north against Toronto and included a dominating performance from rookie guard Kyrie Irving who averaged 20 points and 5 assists per game and logged at least 20 points in the last 5 games of the road trip.
Irving played on the opposite side of 2011 first-round pick Kemba Walker. The former Blue Devil finished with 25 points and 7 assists (also lead the team in minutes played) while last year’s NCAA Championship MVP had 14 points and 4 assists.
For the road trip, Irving averaged 19.9 points and dished out 5 assists over the course of 7 games.
As impressive as Irving’s stats may have been against the Bobcats and over the last week-and-a-half was his ability to speed up games whenever he was on the court and the spin he has put on the ball when laying it up. Ever since missing the game winner against the Indiana Pacers on December 30, Irving is putting the ball in all the right places on the glass.
The hustle that the Cavaliers displayed on the floor today really showed in the first quarter, as they scored 30 points in 12 minutes, something they’ve only been able to do 5 other times this season.
But when it came to the second quarter the bench came out flat. Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin ended the first half with 19 points, as Ramon Sessions couldn’t seem to keep stride with him. What the Cavaliers needed most, with the bench playing most of the second quarter, was a game manager. Who would’ve thought that Irving would become that man so quickly?
When Irving came in to start the second half, the momentum of the game started to change. Especially with Antawn Jamison in the game, Irving felt comfortable controlling the offense with his team down double digits. The team also started to lock down defensively with Irving in the game, even though Irving is still having trouble transitioning from offense to defense.
After assigning Daniel Gibson to smother Augustin in the second half, Cleveland coach Byron Scott saw the defensive improvement he was looking for. Gibson held Augustin to only 5 points after his 19-point half performance.
With all that said, the Cavaliers fared well for most of the game with Anthony Parker out with a back injury. Jamison added 20 points to the win, as it seems more clearer every game that whenever Jamison contributes to a big chunk of the points, the Cavs win games. What coach Scott has to do is make sure that Jamison isn’t on the bench too long.
Varejao also was a lead contributor, posting his fourth double-double of the year with 14 points and 12 boards.
The Cavs will try to push themselves over the .500 mark as the Golden State Warriors are set to pay visit to The Q tomorrow.