This game brought some big changes for the Cavaliers. First of all, Tristan Thompson was playing without his mask. This game also saw Shaun Livingston make his Wine and Gold debut. But the big change was Coach Scott’s decision to start CJ Miles and bring Dion Waiters off the bench. In the first half, the move paid off as CJ Miles had a big first quarter and then Dion Waiters followed with a 14 point 2nd quarter to lead the Cavaliers to a halftime lead.
In the 3rd quarter, though, the Cavaliers’ offense went missing and a slew of bad fouls early in the quarter allowed the Kings to use the free throw line to build a 10 point lead.
The Kings were playing their 2nd road game in two nights, and generally when that happens teams struggle to hang on to leads and keep up the intensity for a full game. It looked that might be happening as the Cavaliers went on a run toward the end of the 3rd quarter and regained the lead early in the 4th.
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, though, the Kings weren’t going to just roll over and hand the game to Cleveland. The Cavaliers seemed to be lacking energy for much of this game despite having 2 days off, and it was Cleveland who made bad plays and unfortunate turnovers down the stretch.
Tristan Thompson fell 1 point short of yet another double double, and he struggled with foul trouble, forcing him to sit for much of the game. This opened the door for big minutes for Luke Walton, who, to his credit, made some really nice defensive plays including a big blocked shot and a couple charges drawn. Kyrie Irving lead the Cavaliers with 22 points and Dion Waiters had 20.
Without Anderson Varejao, though, the Kings’ frontcourt was just too much as DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and 16 rebounds while Jason Thompson had 19 points and 10 rebounds. While there were some things to like from Cleveland in this one, particularly some nice scoring distribution, it was not a great start to the New Year for the Cavaliers, as things looked pretty 2012 in this game.