Strong Second Half Lifts Cavs over Siena

October 8, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

It wasn’t a thing of beauty – and the game’s top two scorers were visiting Euroleague players – but the Cavaliers got their game together after intermission and won their preseason debut, topping Montepaschi Siena, 91-85, on Monday night at The Q.

Coach Byron Scott described his team’s first half performance as “looking like they were stuck in the mud” – and indeed Siena was the sharper club in the first half. The Wine and Gold didn’t take their first lead until the 8:04 mark of the second quarter.

But Cleveland cleaned up its game in the halftime locker room and came out with a different focus in the second stanza.

C.J. Miles – who got the start on Monday night – got the Cavaliers running in the third quarter, but it was Tristan Thompson’s energy that ignited the team. Both players finished with eight points in the quarter – shooting a combined 7-for-8 from the floor in the quarter.

“In the second half, we did what we had to do: we took care of the ball and also for us bigs, we started running up and down the court,” explained Thompson. “In camp we’ve been doing a lot of running drills and, for us bigs, we have to look up the floor and that’s what we did in the second half.”

In the third, Anderson Varejao’s two buckets that gave the Cavaliers their first double-digit lead and – although Siena tied the affair midway through fourth and hung tough to the buzzer – the Wine and Gold never trailed again.

“We just did a really good job of executing in the second half, moving the ball, looking for teammates,” said Coach Scott. “I think in the first half we had (five) assists and (finished with) 18 for the game… So we just did a better job of sharing the ball. We still have a long way to go as far as sharing the ball and trusting each other.”

Six Cavaliers finished in double-figures, led by Samardo Samuels – who came off the bench to net 14 points, seven boards and a blocked shot. The slimmed-down Samuels went 6-of-8 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the stripe.

Donald Sloan followed up with 13 points – also off the bench – and played a terrific floor game in the second half. The former D-League pickup added three boards, three steals and a pair of assists in 26 minutes of action.

Tristan Thompson finished with a dozen points to lead the starters. Miles and Kyrie Irving added 10 points apiece. Miles finished 4-of-5 from the floor. Irving went just 1-of-7 from the floor, but was 8-of-9 from the stripe.

Rookie Dion Waiters closed out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 11 points in 15 minutes off the bench.

Siena was led by Bobby Brown, who finished with 22 points, and Matt Janning, who added 21. Benjamin Eze led both teams with 10 boards.

The Cavaliers complete the second half of their back-to-back on Tuesday night, when they travel to Canton Memorial Civic Center – home of their D-League affiliate Canton Charge – to take on the Milwaukee Bucks.