Cavs Close Road Trip in Style

January 17, 2014
Tristan Thompson
Bart Young/NBAE/Getty Images

Wrap-Up – Before the Cavs embarked on their longest road trip of the year, several players stated that it could possibly define their season. If that’s the case, the Wine and Gold are in store for some good things in the second half after holding off Denver on Friday night to go 3-2 on the West Coast junket.

A refocused Cavalier club used a 42-point second quarter to take a double-digit lead into halftime. After intermission, they extended their edge to two touchdowns before Denver cut it to just three late in the fourth quarter. But the Wine and Gold refused to fold and held off the Nuggets to take the 117-109 win to wrap up the trip at the Pepsi Center.

Kyrie Irving led five Cavaliers in double-figures, netting 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Tristan Thompson doubled-up for the sixth time in his last seven outings – scoring 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing nine of his 10 boards after intermission. CJ Miles finished with 19 points and Luol Deng notched 14 of his 18 points in the second half. Jarrett Jack added 13 points off the bench. Anderson Varejao led both squads with 16 boards.

The Cavs shot 48 percent from the floor, but Denver countered by canning 14 three-pointers on the night. Cleveland outrebounded the Nuggets, 49-41, for the game, but almost doubled Denver in the fourth quarter, 13-7, with Kenneth Faried sitting the entire fourth as Brian Shaw went with a three-guard lineup.

Turning Point – With 6:44 remaining in the second quarter, Nate Robinson scored on a layup to put Denver up by a point. But CJ Miles’ three-pointer gave Cleveland the lead right back and Kyrie Irving caught fire – scoring 10 of the Cavaliers’ next 16 points and leading an 18-7 run that put the Wine and Gold in the driver’s seat to stay. The Cavaliers didn’t trail the rest of the night.

Game BallAnderson Varejao – Again, Anderson did a lot of rebounding and a little bit of everything else – dishing out a season-high seven assists to lead the squad. Varejao also led both squads with three steals and recorded one of Cleveland’s six blocks. The Wild Thing has grabbed at least 11 boards in 10 of his last 11 games and, since Dec. 29, is tied with DeAndre Jordan as the league's top rebounder at 14.0 per contest.

By the Numbers42 … points the Cavaliers scored in the second quarter on Friday night – shooting 65 percent (17-of-26) from the floor and 44 percent from beyond the arc. The last time Cleveland scored that many points in a period was Nov. 5, 2010 when they netted 44 in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia.

QuotableLuol Deng, on his new team coming together on the road …

”I think guys are excited. The biggest thing with winning really is just coming together as the game goes on. I said it when we lost to Portland. I said it when we played great in the Lakers game, we were able to hold on and get the win. We just have to keep making progress. When you’re winning, it’s fun.”

Up Next – With their longest trip of the season in their rearview mirror, the resurgent Cavaliers play their next five in the cozy confines of The Q. They begin the homestand on Monday, with a Martin Luther King Day matinee against the Mavericks. On Wednesday, Luol Deng’s former club comes to town for a Central Division matchup. The struggling Bucks arrive on Friday night and the Cavs welcome the surprising Suns to The Q on Sunday evening. The homestand wraps up next Tuesday night, when Anthony Davis and the Pelicans roll into town.