Cavs Can't Cap Comeback in Opener
David Liam Kyle
In their season debut, the Wine and Gold got out of the gate slowly and watched the Raptors build a 15-point edge midway through the third quarter. Ramon Sessions and Alonzo Gee keyed a fourth-quarter rally that got Cleveland to within a deuce before Toronto pulled away for the 104-96 win.
Monday’s game marked the debuts of rookies Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, whose premier made for mixed results. Kyrie Irving got the start at the point in his pro debut – going just 2-for-12 from the floor for six points. But Irving, who closed the game on the floor, did lead the squad with seven assists and committed just a single turnover. Thompson was more impressive, going 4-of-6 from the floor for 12 points and five boards in 17 active minutes of action.
“I did some good things on the defensive end, but I’m not satisfied unless we get the W,” said the Toronto native. “So we’ve got things to work on and we’re going to continue to work.”
Irving’s backup, Ramon Sessions, led both clubs with 18 points – notching 10 of them in the third quarter. The fifth-year pro went 6-for-12 from the floor, adding four boards, six helpers and a steal.
The game was knotted at 23-apiece after one quarter, but Toronto shot 63 percent in the second to take a 10-point edge at intermission. Jose Calderon’s three-pointer gave the Raptors their biggest lead, 67-52, in the third period. Daniel Gibson’s layup with 9:24 remaining in the contest cut Toronto’s lead, 82-80. But the Cavs would get no closer.
Gibson finished with a dozen points off Cleveland’s bench. Antawn Jamison led Cleveland’s starters with 15, followed by Anderson Varejao – who chipped in with 14 points and team-high 10 rebounds.
“Twenty-thousand, five-sixty-two,” he responded, without hesitation. “You only have to tell me something one time.”
“Even though I’m away from my family, this is the best Christmas gift I could’ve gotten,” said the son of Laker great Mychal Thompson (and brother of Warriors first-rounder, Klay, and White Sox prospect, Trayce). He said he knew -- unofficially -- when assistant coaches began congratulating him at the start of practice on Friday.
In the Cavs locker room, his nameplate still says “Biggs/Thompson.” That’s about to change.
The man is 22-year Akeem, a CSU studying Special Ed and Nutrition and sporting a 3.9 GPA. At the age of 9, Akeem, his brother and his mother became homeless in Cleveland and he spent most of his life between the ages of 9 and 14 living in shelters and temporarily living on the couches of friends and family. The young poet now works in the valet stand at Metro Health hospital and is working on his education.
Ryan Hollins – who finished with zero points and a single board in 15 minutes of action – backed up Varejao at the 5. Samardo Samuels and Luke Harangody each got DNP-CD’s. When asked postgame why he went with Hollins, Coach Scott simply reasoned: “Ryan was the backup tonight.”
Coach Scott was asked if he thought Gee hurt himself worse than he did.
“Yeah I did,” said Scott. “Especially the way he fell, it was pretty awkward. I think the adrenaline that was flowing is probably what kept him going. I think he’ll feel it tomorrow morning a little bit.”