Everyone take a deep breath. The losing streak is over. We can all relax. Well, at least a little bit.
Cavaliers bounced back from (possibly) their worst loss of the season, beating the Boston Celtics 97-91 and snapping their season-long 10-game losing streak. Tristan Thompson led everyone with 29 points and 17 boards (both career highs) and Alonzo Gee finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, as the Cavs improved to 23-52. The Celtics were paced by Jeff Green’s 23 point, nine rebound, four assist evening and got 16 points and seven boards off the bench from someone named Shavlik Randolph. Boston, firmly rooted in the 7th seed in the East and playing without Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, saw their record fall to 39-37.
This wasn’t Cleveland’s most impressive win of the season, but it was possibly their most important. Following a week of coaching speculation and the debacle that was Wednesday’s loss to the Nets, it was nice to see the Cavs bounce back and win on the road in Boston. Yes, the Celtics were missing key players on Friday night, but when has that foretold a Cavalier victory? The Nets were without Joe Johnson on Wednesday night and the Cavs lost by roughly a billion. That they played hard and didn’t overlook a hobbled Celtic team is (sadly) itself a minor victory.
A win is a win. But a bounce-back win after a week of “have the Cavs quit on their coach” speculation is even better. The Cavs played a fantastic third period, holding the Celtics to just 16 points and ending the quarter on a 19-6 run that (coupled with their 8-0 run to start the fourth) put them in firm control of the ball game. Cleveland’s lead ballooned to as many as twelve during the fourth (82-68) and while the Celtics made their requisite run, the Cavs never let them get closer than four points. There would be no repeat of last week’s loss to the Celtics at the buzzer. The young Cavs kept up their defensive pressure in the final period (and Boston did their part by missing open treys and stumbling into some unforced turnovers) and Cleveland went 7-8 from the free throw line in fourth quarter to keep their hard earned victory.
Oh, that Kyrie Irving guy played too. It wasn’t Irving’s best night, as he finished with just 11 points on 4-20 shooting (though also eight assists and five boards), but it was enough. The young All-Star set up Tyler Zeller for an easy layup to increase Cleveland’s lead to 93-87 with two minutes to play and he followed it up thirty second later with his only basket of the fourth, a step back jumper to put the Cavs up 95-87 and essentially ice the game. [Read more...]