Cavs Wrap Up Roadie in Style

Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 25 points in Monday's win.
Kent Smith
NBAE.Getty Images
There’s many things to love about this year’s Cavaliers club. One is the adjustments they’re able to make at halftime.

Closing out the longest trip of the season and trailing by 11 at halftime in Charlotte, the road-weary Cavs had a built-in excuse to coast and head for home. But Byron Scott’s squad turned up the defense midway through the third period and pulled away for the 102-94 win on Monday afternoon on Tobacco Road.

"At halftime, I told them that if we were going to win this game, we would have play defense," succinctly explained Coach Scott. "If we play defense then we'll have the opportunity to score and win the game."

The Wine and Gold used another total team effort in the MLK Day victory.

Kyrie Irving continues to improve, seemingly by the game, and the 19-year-old guard led Cleveland again – notching 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He added seven assists, four boards and a block to his totals.

Antawn Jamison – who, like Irving, played his college ball nearby – followed up with 20 points and seven boards. His jumper to close the third quarter put the Cavaliers ahead to stay.

"We never get too low when things are not going well; we talk it out and try to correct it," said Jamison, of the second-half effort. "That’s one thing we were able to do tonight. We took our time, we chipped away, we stayed positive, we relied on one another and that’s what you have to do, especially on the road."

The Bobcats, led by the undersized backcourt of D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker, had their way with the Wine and Gold before intermission – shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and piling up 16 assists. But Cleveland clamped down in the second stanza. Charlotte went on to shoot 45 percent on the afternoon, garnering just four more helpers in the second half.

Anderson Varejao continued his inspired play inside – doubling up with 14 points and 12 boards. The last two of his 14 were maybe most impressive – reaching back for a Jamison pass as he cut through the lane and flipping in the layup to give Cleveland the 97-94 edge.

Omri Casspi pitched in with 15 points and Alonzo Gee added 10 off the bench. Ramon Sessions came off Byron Scott’s bench to notch a game-high nine assists.

The Cavaliers wrapped up the extended road trip at 3-4 and stand at 6-6 on the season as they welcome the Warriors to The Q on Tuesday night.

  • Anderson Varejao, who came into Monday’s matchup as the 4th-leading rebounder in the NBA, had his career-long sixth straight game of double-digit rebounds. Andy, who’s also 2nd in the NBA in offensive rebounding, has grabbed double-digit boards in every game but two.

  • Semih Erden finally got untracked a bit on Monday, notching his first field goal of the season with a first-quarter bucket. The backup big finished with four points, six boards and a blocked shot.

  • Antawn Jamison was one of three Cavaliers – along with Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions – with family members in attendance.

  • With Monday’s win, the Cavaliers wrap up the longest junket of the season and the squad’s longest trip since 2007. Cleveland has played less home games – three – than any team in the NBA.

  • Anthony Parker missed the second half of Monday’s matchup with a sore lower back. Boobie Gibson got the start after intermission and turned in one of the biggest defensive plays of the game – deflecting and stealing a D.J. Augustin pass. Gibson, who also came into the ballgame ranked 7th in the league at an even 50 percent from long-distance, went 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.

  • Omri Casspi is also getting himself untracked as one of only three new Cavaliers. The starting small forward had his second straight double-digit scoring performance.

  • Monday’s victory over the Bobcats at Time-Warner Arena was the Cavaliers’ first in that gym since January 2008. (Cleveland is 12-1 all-time against the Bobcats at The Q.)

  • Sensational rookie, Kyrie Irving, notched his fifth straight game of 20-plus points. He’s shot 50 percent or better in each of those games. He leads all rookies in scoring and is second in assists only to Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio.

    "Once I got used to the system it was just finding ways I can be effective, whether it’s creating for my teammates or creating for myself," said Irving. "Coach Scott just tells me to be aggressive every single time."

  • A number that doesn’t mean much now but could come April: No Cavalier played 35 minutes in Monday’s game and, on the season, only Anderson Varejao (31.1) and Antawn Jamison (30.4) are averaging more than 30 minutes per contest.