Second Half Surge Lifts Sixers Over Cavs

Third Quarter Run Spoils Kyrie's Return
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

One night after the schedule-weary Wine and Gold suffered their worst loss of the season, their young leader returned to give them a lift. And for two-and-a-half quarters, he did.

But the Cavaliers – who knotted the game mid-way through the third – ran out of gas midway through the period and saw the Sixers go on a 15-0 run. Philly extended their lead to 26 in the fourth and coasted to the 103-87 win over the Cavs at The Q.

Kyrie Irving made his return to the Cavaliers lineup after missing nine of the previous ten games with a sprained right shoulder. And in limited minutes, he finished with nine points, four boards and three boards – going 4-of-10 from the floor.

“I’m going out there to try to win as many games as possible,” said Irving. “Although we’re out of (playoff contention), it’s about competing, and I love to play. I’d rather be out there on one leg than be on the bench and just not competing.”

The squad fed off Irving in the early-going – jumping out to an early lead and staying within striking distance of the Sixers throughout the first half.

After intermission, the Cavaliers scrapped their way to a 57-57 tie with 7:53 to play in the period. But Philly’s Jrue Holiday was virtually unstoppable from that point forward – netting 19 of his 24 points in the third quarter and extending the Sixers’ edge to 18 heading into the fourth.

“I know it’s tough when you play seven (games) in nine (days), but we have five in the next seven days as well,” said Byron Scott. “We just have to find a way to compete at a higher level for longer periods of time. That’s the bottom line.”

The Cavaliers got their best production off the bench – with Lester Hudson and Samardo Samuels leading Cleveland with 15 points apiece.

Hudson notched 11 of his 15 in the second half and Samuels scored seven of his in the fourth quarter. Samardo also grabbed five boards, tying his high school teammate, Tristan Thompson, for the team lead.

Thompson was 5-of-6 from the floor, adding a dozen points to his five boards. Antawn Jamison bounced back from a tough shooting night in Detroit to add 11 points to round out the Cavaliers in double-figures.

Andre Iguodala doubled-up for Philly, finishing with 19 points and 13 boards. Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young added a dozen points apiece, with OSU’s Evan Turner pitching in with 11.

The Sixers shot 52 percent from the floor and out-rebounded Cleveland by 13. The Cavs outscored Philly in the paint, 44-38, but allowed 18 points on their 13 miscues.

Wednesday’s matchup marks the seventh game in nine nights for the Wine and Gold. It gets (a little) easier for the Cavaliers as they embark on the homestretch of the 2011-12 season, but they still have five games in the next seven nights – beginning with a meeting against New York on Friday night at The Q.

  • Coach Scott got a good scare in the second period when Elton Brand decked Kyrie Irving on a drive under the Cavs’ basket. Irving was down for a second, but bounced back up quickly.

    After the game, Scott quipped: ““Elton looked over and said, ‘I didn’t try to hurt him.’ I said, ‘I know, he’s a Duke guy. Maybe if it was Carolina or (N.C.) State it’d been a different story …’”

    “I fell to the floor and it was my ‘welcome back’ kind of moment,” added Irving. “It was good to get it out of the way in the early going.”

  • Alonzo Gee missed his second straight game with a left ankle sprain – the first two games he’s missed all season.

  • Since the start of April, Lester Hudson is averaging 14.5 points per game, ranking him third in the Eastern Conference in points per game off the bench.

  • Luke Harangody continued his whirlwind tour – returning to the Cavaliers after helping the Canton Charge advance to the second round of the D-League playoffs. His last game with Canton was his fourth game in four nights.

    “It was rough because I’m the type of player where energy is a big part of my game, so when I didn’t have that, it was hard to do the things I do well on the court,” said Harangody. “But we pushed through and got the win.”

  • The Charge open their semifinal round series against the Austin Toros on Thursday night at the Canton Civic Center. Game 2 goes down on Saturday night in Austin with Game 3 – if necessary – in the Lone Star State on Sunday.