Pelicans Hold Off Cavs at The Q
Wrap-Up – Maybe it’s the return of the Polar Vortex, but for the second straight game, the Cavaliers went ice-cold from the floor and allowed their opponent to take a double-digit lead that that Cleveland couldn’t overcome. For the Wine and Gold, the second half of the second quarter led to their undoing as the Cavs dropped their second straight – falling, 100-89, to the Pelicans on Tuesday night at The Q.
The loss, which dropped the Cavs to 1-4 on the homestand, spoiled some solid individual performances, most notably that of rookie Anthony Bennett, who had easily the best run of his young career – tallying season-highs in minutes (31), points (15) and rebounds (8). Kyrie Irving again led the Wine and Gold with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting, adding a team-high five assists and a pair of steals. Dion Waiters came off the bench to go 9-of-13 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from long-distance, for 21 points. Tyler Zeller got the spot-start at center for Anderson Varejao and doubled-up with 13 points and 10 boards in just 21 minutes of play.
The No. 1 overall pick taken in the years between Irving and Bennett – Anthony Davis – also had himself a big night, going 12-of-18 from the floor for a game-high 30 points to go with seven boards and a game-high eight blocked shots.
Turning Point – The turning point of Tuesday’s loss isn’t tough to pinpoint. At the 5:25 mark of the second period, Kyrie scored on layup to give Cleveland a four-point lead, 42-38. Those would be the last points the Wine and Gold would score for the remainder of the half, as New Orleans went on a 16-0 run to close the quarter. The Pelicans led by a dozen at half, ran their lead to as high as 22 points late in the third and kept Cleveland at a double-digit deficit the rest of the way.
Game Ball – Anthony Bennett – Not many players have had to endure as much criticism as Anthony Bennett has gotten only halfway through his rookie season. But the 20-year-old forward has continued to work, and it paid off on Tuesday. Looking as comfortable and confident as he has all season, Bennett went 5-for-10 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Two of his eight boards were on the offensive glass and Bennett added an assist and one of Cleveland’s two blocked shots.
By the Numbers – 17 … Games this season that Kyrie Irving has led the Cavaliers in both scoring and assists. Over his last five games, Irving is averaging 21.4 points and 7.6 assists per contest.
Quotable – Coach Mike Brown, on the Cavaliers’ struggles on the homestand …
”Maybe I need to shake some things up, but I know I gotta go back and watch the tape and see what it is because right now what we’re doing out there is unacceptable. It’s not good enough.”
Up Next – After wrapping up the five-game homestand, the Wine and Gold hit the road – with the first of three contests away from The Q having possible playoff ramifications. On Thursday night, the Cavaliers travel to New York to take on Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, who sit two games ahead of Cleveland in the East. After Thursday’s nationally-televised affair, the Cavs travel for a Texas two-step – facing off against Dwight Howard and the Rockets on Saturday night and Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks on Monday.
Postgame Interview: Anthony Bennett