Cavs Fall in Home Finale

Second Unit Gets Big Minutes in Loss to Wizards
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

On Wednesday night, the Cavaliers closed out a pair of this season by looking ahead to the next.

No starter played more than 23 minutes and D.J. Kennedy, in his first appearance as a Cavalier, came off the bench to lead the squad in scoring. While Cleveland’s second unit auditioned for the offseason, Washington’s John Wall went off for 12 points and six assists in the third quarter alone – propelling the Wizards to the 96-85 win over the Wine and Gold on Wednesday night at The Q.

“I got to see what I wanted to see,” said Byron Scott. “Brought in a lot of our young guys and let them play a lot of minutes, D.J. (Kennedy) especially. I wanted to see him in these last few games. For his first professional game, I thought he did pretty well.”

Kyrie Irving – the presumptive choice for Rookie of the Year – played just under 10 minutes after suffering from gastroenteritis earlier in the day. The Cavs’ fabulous freshman was determined to play on Fan Appreciation Night and notched five points in his last home appearance of the season.

“(The fans) have been supportive no matter – if it was back-to-back games at home, win or lose,” said Irving. “They’ve been the best fans in the world. I can’t find the words to thank them enough.”

Irving and his fellow starters gave way to reserves like Kennedy – who notched 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, going 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and adding six boards, three assists and a pair of steals in 31 minutes of action.

“I was just excited to be out there with the players and get a feel for the game,” said Kennedy. “It was exciting where you hear your name called down that bench and you finally get a chance to go in. I was just excited to be out there.”

Samardo Samuels was also productive off the bench – adding nine points and nine boards while going 4-of-6 from the field. Samuels, Kennedy and Luke Walton were a combined 12-of-15 from the floor on Wednesday.

Every Cavalier who suited up scored in the loss to Washington, with Cleveland’s bench netting 52 of the team’s 85 points.

The only other Cavalier to notch double-figures was Antawn Jamison, who added 10 points in what could be his home finale with the Wine and Gold.

John Wall led everyone with 21 points, 13 helpers and seven steals – adding seven boards. The former No. 1 overall pick was the catalyst to the Wizards doubling-up Cleveland in fast break scoring, 20-10.

The Cavaliers closed out the home portion of their 2011-12 schedule on Wednesday and wrap up the campaign on Thursday night against the Bulls in Chicago.

  • D.J. Kennedy leading the squad in scoring on Wednesday makes him the 13th player to lead the team in scoring this season – tops in the NBA.

  • Scene at The Q on Wednesday night: Cavaliers legend and new addition to the front office, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, superfan and Browns quarterback Joe Haden and former Browns great, Bernie Kosar.

  • The Cavaliers wrap up their home schedule at 11-22.

  • With one game remaining, Cleveland’s rookies have placed very well among their fellow freshman. Among first-year players, Kyrie Irving is 1st in scoring (18.8 ppg), second in assists (5.5 apg), three-point shooting (.398) and free-throw shooting (.872); 3rd in minutes (31.0 mpg); 5th in field goal percentage (.468) and steals (1.06). Tristan Thompson is second in rebounding (6.4 rpg); fourth in blocks (1.03) and 12th in scoring (8.2 ppg).