Wine and Gold Go Wire-to-Wire
Wrap-Up – If the young Cavaliers ever needed an easy win, it was on Wednesday night. Coming off another big loss to the Bulls, getting some bad pregame news about Anderson Varejao and about to head out on a five-game roadie, the Wine and Gold were looking for something good. They got it in the form of a solid 99-83 win over the Hawks at The Q.Cleveland again got strong performances from the Class of 2011 – with Kyrie Irving netting 18 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter and Tristan Thompson doubling up for the ninth time in his last 11 contests with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Rookie Tyler Zeller also notched a double-double with 11 points and a career-high 12 boards. Alonzo Gee had a solid outing with 15 points, six boards, three helpers a steal and a blocked shot. The Cavs lead by a point after one quarter but held the Hawks to just 22 percent in the second period. Cleveland led by two touchdowns after three quarters and Atlanta got within single-figures just once in the fourth.
Turning Point – Josh Smith’s tip-in early in the third tied the game at 51-apiece. But after Byron Scott called timeout to settle his young troops, rookie Dion Waiters drilled a three-pointer. Kyrie Irving hit a pair of buckets – going 6-of-8 from the floor in the third – and the Cavaliers used a 9-2 run to give them all the breathing room they’d need to stave off the Hawks, who didn’t get closer than a half-dozen the rest of the way.
Game Ball – Shaun Livingston – The recently-acquired guard has been a stabilizing veteran influence on the Cavaliers since his arrival on Christmas Day and was again on Wednesday night. In 20 strong minutes off the bench, the eighth-year pro went 4-for-6 from the floor – adding a team-high five assists, four boards a steal and blocked shot. He ran the second unit with confidence and committed just a single turnover.
By the Numbers – 5 … wins – out of nine – for the Cavaliers this season against the Southeast Division. They’re now 2-1 against the Hawks this season and have won 12 of their last 17 meetings against Atlanta at The Q.
Quotable – Coach Byron Scott, on what he told his team before its matchup with Atlanta …
“I think the biggest thing is that we talked before the game about just having fun. Let’s go out there and have fun guys and just play hard. Let’s see what happens. Play hard, play together and play smart. If we can do those three things, we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to win. I thought obviously we did all three of those things.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers get ready for their final trip of the season into the Pacific time zone – embarking on a five-game, nine-game junket. On Friday night, they travel to Denver to face the Nuggets. After that, it’s a California back-to-back – against the Lakers at Staples Center on Sunday and versus the Kings the next night in Sacramento. Two nights later, they take on the Blazers in the Pacific Northwest before wrapping up the roadie next Saturday night in Utah.