We’re talking ‘bout practice …
All Jacked Up … The Cavaliers practiced on Thursday before taking off for Charlotte, where they’ll begin a weekend back-to-back against the Bobcats on Friday before facing the Pacers on Saturday night.
Cleveland’s coming off an impressive win in the opener – one that featured myriad story lines: Mike Brown’s return to the sidelines, Andrew Bynum’s eagerly-anticipated return to action, the new-look Brooklyn Nets.
But under the radar, another offseason acquisition – Jarrett Jack – might have made the biggest contribution to Wednesday’s win.
Jack entered the game at the 7:31 mark in the first quarter, with the Cavaliers trailing 12-6 and looking a little flat after the excitement from game’s open had subsided. For the rest of the period, all Jack did was score 10 of Cleveland’s 27 points – going 2-of-3 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the line – canning a jumper in the closing seconds that erased a nine-point Nets advantage.
“I think that’s one of the advantages you get from not starting,” said Jack. “You kind of get to survey the game from the side, kind of be a spectator, see what’s necessary out there within the flow of the course of the game and try to bring as much as you can.”
Jack finished with 12 points, three boards, three assists and a steal. But statistics aside, he righted the Cavs’ ship when the team’s leader had to take a seat with two early fouls.
“We all saw what he did – he ran the team, he knows when he needs to be aggressive, he’s going to pick up our defensive intensity,” praised Kyrie Irving. “It was opening night , (there were) a lot of nerves, I came out with two early fouls and he came in and was a veteran out there. (He) led us on both ends, got us back into the game and we were good for the rest of the game. And that’s what he’s going to do throughout the season, just set up me and Dion and run the team.”
Gee-fense … Another unsung hero from the season-opening win was Alonzo Gee who, like Jack, didn’t put up huge numbers but played a big role in the victory.
Gee scored an economical seven points, canning the lone three-pointer and all four free throws he attempted. But it was his play on the defensive end – especially in the closing seconds when he refused to bite on Paul Pierce’s trademark up-fake – that helped seal the deal for Cleveland.
“I’ve been guarding him for however many years now and it’s hard to pick up all of player’s moves like his because he has so many,” said Gee. “But one of his favorite moves is the pump-fake step-back. And that’s all I was thinking.”
Listen as Jarret Jack, Kyrie Irving and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Thursday's practice with the media.