Game 34: Cavs at Bobcats
Time Warner Cable Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: Guard Kyrie Irving refused to let the Cavs lose. He finished with a game-high 33 points, 16 in the fourth quarter. He buried a 12-foot jumper over Bobcats swingman Jeffery Taylor with 1 second left for the game-winner.
His numbers were crazy: 33 points, five rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks. Irving made 10 of 21 from the field, 3 of 4 from the 3-point line and 10 of 10 from the foul line.
The Cavs squandered an 18-point lead in the game, but came back to win.
That's the kind of games fans are longing for from their budding superstar. If one wants to nit-pick, he had five turnovers, but he'll be forgiven because he was fantastic in the fourth quarter.
What was shocking to me was Coach Byron Scott playing newly acquired guard Shaun Livingston in crunch time over Dion Waiters. Scott is really testing the first-round pick. First, he benches him in favor of C.J. Miles.
Then, he doesn't play him down the stretch in favor of a guy who was cut by the worst team in the league (Washington) that was missing its top two point guards (John Wall and A.J. Price).
We'll likely see more of that kind of coaching strategy since Livingston finished with six points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals in 26 minutes.
He's long and knows how to play. He doesn't have that great athleticism he used to have before his knee surgery. I have a feeling we'll see a lot more of him. He likes to share the ball and his 6-7 size allows the Cavs to use him at the 1, 2 and 3 positions.
I would be remiss to not mention Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. He made 8 of 10 shots, 3 of 4 from the foul line.
This guy has been playing out of his mind in the last couple weeks. He's playing hard, defending and altering or blocking shots.
The Bobcats have lost 19 of their last 21 games. The Cavs snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Cavs played with just 12 players on their roster. Center Anderson Varejao (right knee contusion) and guard Daniel Gibson (concussion) didn't make the trip to North Carolina. Forward Jon Leuer, who wasn't going to play any way, joined the Canton Charge for his second NBA Development League assignment of the season.
Bobcats guard Ben Gordon had a team-high 27 points, while former Cavs guard Ramon Sessions added 20. Charlotte outscored the Cavs off the bench, 59-19.
Sessions started last season with the Cavs, was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at the deadline and then opted out after the season. He signed with the Bobcats as a free agent.
The Cavs haven't been the same since he left last February. He provided a legitimate and consistent scoring option off the bench. I honestly would have given some thought to trying to sign him last summer. I know he was searching for a starting job, but he didn't find that in Charlotte, either.
Bobcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was game-time decision with an eye abrasion. He ended with seven points and nine rebounds. There were rumors that the Cavs tried to move up in the draft to get their hands on Kidd-Gilchrist. He's having a decent rookie season: 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.33 blocks. He's shooting 50.6 percent from the field, not bad for a player scouts said can't shoot.
He's an energy guy, who really defends and rebounds. He's fun to watch. I was skeptical about going after him in the draft. I want my small forward to be able to make shots. Of course, I'll stick with that assessment now. Alonzo Gee leaves a little to be desired on that front, as well.
The Cavs ended up drafting Waiters with the No. 4 pick. He'll eventually move back into the starting lineup. He's a way better player than Miles, who is a volume shooter. Normally, Waiters gets a lot of rebounds and assists. He's not thrilled about being sent to the bench.
LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Sacramento on Wednesday, 97-94.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Houston at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Jeffery Taylor (6-7, 225)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Hakim Warrick (6-9, 219)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Bismack Byombo (6-9, 245)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Gerald Henderson (6-5, 215)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Kemba Walker (6-1, 184)
Cavs – G Daniel Gibson, C Anderson Varejao, F Jon Leuer
Bobcats - C Byron Mullens
Danny Crawford, Curtis Blair, Pat Fraher