Cavs Quartet Shines in Houston

February 15, 2013
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

The Wine and Gold’s young foursome in this year’s BBVA Rising Stars Challenge in Houston didn’t made the big, bold statement that Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson did last year in Orlando. But Cleveland’s quartet made enough noise to let the league know that the Cavs are on the cusp of something great.

That’s not to say that Irving, the game’s reigning MVP, wasn’t his fantastic late-game self or that Thompson didn’t throw down everything that got near the rim. In fact, had Kyrie not been pulled with 2:40 to play, he was well on his way to winning top honors for the second straight season.

Instead, Denver’s Kenneth Faried was named the game’s MVP, leading everyone with 40 points and 10 boards and guiding Team Chuck to the 163-135 win on Friday night at the Toyota Center.

Kyrie was gaining fast in the second half of Friday’s free-for-all – shaking-and-baking Detroit’s Brandon Knight to the delight of the fans and notching 18 of his team-high 32 points after intermission. In one particular stretch with just under six minutes to play in regulation, Irving and Knight had a memorable one-on-one duel (that Kyrie definitely got the best of).

“(It) just happened, honestly, a couple of plays down, going down the court with (Knight),” explained Irving. “But more or less, that kind of rivalry with me and B. Knight has been happening since high school, since we started playing against each other. We were battling for the one and two spot in high school. He's a good friend of mine; it's great competition.”

The Wine and Gold’s rookie duo of Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller also had solid showings – although it seemed like Zeller was already mentally in Chapel Hill, where his jersey will be retired at halftime of the North Carolina-Virginia game on Saturday afternoon.

As expected, Waiters played his aggressive game – going 11-for-12 off the bench to lead all reserves with 23 points. Zeller finished with four points and four boards.

In two years of competing in the BBVA Rising Stars, Tristan has missed exactly two field goal attempts. On Friday night, the former No. 4 overall pick went 9-of-10 from the floor – eight of those being dunks. Thompson also equaled Faried with a game-high 10 boards.

“This is my second year playing; (the game is) usually guard heavy,” said Thompson. “So when we were coming in we had to get stops in the paint especially with so much bigs. It feels good to get a win.”

Kyrie finished 14-for-20 from the field, including 4-of-8 from long-distance. He added six boards, six helpers and a steal in the precursor to the rest of his All-Star Weekend. Irving will participate in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout on Saturday night and suit up for the Eastern Conference All-Stars one night later.

The game itself went as expected, with little-to-no defense being played for most of the night. Both teams shot over 60 percent from the floor and nine players for Team Chuck’s squad notched double-figures.

For three of the four young Cavaliers, All-Star weekend is essentially over and they’ll begin getting ready for the season’s final 29 games. For Kyrie, the weekend is just getting started.