Cavs Bounce Back, Belt Pacers

Six weeks ago in Indiana, sensational rookie Kyrie Irving missed a game-winning layup and the Cavs couldn’t close out the Pacers. In his return to the lineup on Wednesday night, Irving made sure it wouldn’t come to that.

After missing the previous three games with a concussion, this June’s top overall pick netted 12 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter and the Wine and Gold coasted to the 98-87 win over the struggling Pacers at The Q.

In his first game back, Irving went 8-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from long-distance, adding five assists, three boards and just a single turnover in 37 minutes of play.

“I’m 100 percent,” asserted Irving. “It doesn’t mean that because I had a prior concussion that my game is going to change in any way. I had the same aggressiveness.”

The Cavaliers lost Anderson Varejao with a fractured wrist in a home loss Friday night and looked completely listless the next night against Philly. But the Cavaliers were a rejuvenated group with their starting point guard fully mended and went wire-to-wire over a Pacers team that’s now dropped five straight.

Other than a rough patch to start the fourth quarter, it was all Cavaliers on Wednesday night. They led by a dozen after one quarter and 18 at intermission. Indy made a late run, but didn’t close the gap to single-digits until under a minute to play.

Semih Erden, starting in place of the aforementioned Varejao, had easily his best outing of the season – finishing with a career-high 18 points and season-high eight boards. The Turkish big man outdueled his All-Star counterpart, Roy Hibbert, for most of the evening.

“On both ends of the floor, he was more aggressive and that’s the one thing we want him to be,” praised Coach Scott. “We want him to try to be assertive when he’s out there on both ends of the floor. I thought tonight he was a little bit more comfortable and confident in doing that.”

Antawn Jamison finished with 13 points, eight boards and a pair of blocked shots and Omri Casspi barely missed a double-double with 10 points and a season-high nine boards.

Ramon Sessions came off Cleveland’s bench to go 5-for-5 from the floor – including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc – adding four boards, four helpers and a pair of steals.

The Cavaliers’ extended homestand continues on Friday night, when they welcome the Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat to The Q.

  • It wasn’t all good news for the Cavs on Wednesday. With 8:21 remaining in the third quarter, on a three-point attempt, Daniel Gibson came down on Paul George’s foot and sprained his left ankle. He didn’t return to the game, but X-rays were negative. He’ll be re-evaluated at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Sports Health Thursday morning.

    “It’s frustrating, first of all,” said Gibson after the win. “I felt like I was getting back into the groove and was feeling good and then something like that happens, but I’m proud of the team. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”

  • The Cavaliers point guard duo of Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions tallied nine combined assists – or the exact amount as Indiana had as a team on Wednesday. Cleveland had 16 helpers at the break and 24 on the night.

  • Byron Scott’s squad played possibly their best first half of the season on Wednesday – shooting 58 percent from the floor and holding Indy to just 30 percent on two total assists. Cleveland held Indy to just .368 for the entire game – a season-best for the Cavs’ D.

  • In the locker room before Wednesday’s game, some Cavs took turns breaking each other’s chops about this singing Valentine’s Day message in which they were asked to croon for the fans. Kyrie Irving – apparently the Cavs’ Renaissance man and easily the team’s best singer – admitted that, not only can he carry a tune, but plays the alto sax as well as the trumpet and trombone.

  • Wednesday night is officially the Cavaliers most successful night of the week. They’re now 4-1 on hump-day this season.