Blogs > Cleveland Cavaliers Blog

Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Podcast with NBA Draft Insider

The following is a link to a podcast I did with Kristofer Habbas of NBA Draft Insider on Wednesday. I talked about the state of the Cavs, what I think they might do in the draft and what they need to do going forward.

Here's the link.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Game 46: Warriors at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: Let's talk a little about Alonzo Gee's night.

He's known as the Cavaliers' defensive stopper. That wasn't the case tonight. He started on Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack and was decent against him in the first half.

The coaches shifted him over to Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson to start the second half. It was no contest. Thompson kept firing from long range. He made his first six 3-pointers en route to his career-high 32 points and seven rebounds.

Gee not only stunk up the place defensively, he was scoreless on offense. He was 0 of 5 from the field, 0 of 2 from the 3-point line.

"(It) was just a bad night on both ends of the floor," Cavs coach Byron Scott said.

My God, Thompson was impressive. He shoots the ball with so little effort, especially from long range. I'd take him on my team in a second. He's a little better than his brother, Mychel, who played five games with the Cavs during the 2011-12 season (just a little).

Stephen Curry, another major snub for the All-Star Game, sprained his ankle in the Toronto game on Monday and was one of four players held out by the Warriors. He was replaced by Jack, who had 26 points and matched his career high with 12 assists.

"He's a helluva security blanket to have," Cavs coach Byron Scott said.

What would have happened if Curry, center Andrew Bogut and forwards Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry had played? I don't even want to think about it.

Often times, though, when opposing teams find out the other team is short-handed, they let down. Scott tried to warn his troops it was going to happen, calling the Warriors a "wounded animal."

Monday's game was one of the first times all year they had their projected starting lineup together. Center Andrew Bogut finally returned from an ankle injury. The 7-footer has appeared in just five games this season. He was also held out of the game. The Warriors are holding him out of back-to-back games.

Small forward Harrison Barnes, who has a sore left knee, was also sidelined.

All-Star power forward David Lee has been having an outstanding season.

Another local connection is Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone, an assistant coach with the Cavs from 2005-10.

This was the most potent offensive team the Cavs have faced in quite a while. Now, they are defending, too, which is another reason they are 11 games over .500.

They will be game planning for Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, who has averaged 35.7 points in his last three games. He had been playing the best basketball of his career. He had a real downer on Tuesday with 14 points on 5 of 17 shooting.

He was questionable before the game with a virus. He should go home and stay in bed for two days.

The Cavs played without two key players on the second team: Power forward Luke Walton (ankle/foot) and Boobie Gibson (toe).

The Cavs have lost five in a row to the Warriors, including their last three at home. They stumbled at Oracle Arena on Nov. 7, 106-96. Lee definitely looked like an All-Star in that game with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. 

YAHOO! SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer said he thinks Kyrie Irving will be the starter in the All-Star Game. Here's a link to that story.

LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Toronto on Saturday, 99-98.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Detroit 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Richard Jefferson (6-7, 230)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. David Lee (6-9, 240)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Andris Biedrins (7-0, 242)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs. Klay Thompson (6-7, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jarrett Jackson (6-3, 197) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, G Josh Selby 
Warriors - G/F Brandon Rush, C Andrew Bogut 
Derrick Stafford, Karl Lane, Zach Zarba

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Game 45: Cavs at Raptors

Air Canada Centre
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The legend is growing.

Kyrie Irving has been on quite a tear. In his last three games, he's averaging 35.7 points.

He fired in a game-high 32 points on Saturday, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining. Raptors swingman Alan Anderson, who played for the Canton Charge last season, was guarding Irving on the last few plays.

Raptors coach Dwane Case must have wanted a bigger player on Irving. The 6-6 Anderson was playing off Irving, and he made him pay. He drained a 28-footer from the top of the key.

Fox Sports Ohio's Austin Carr coined the best phrase of the night on an Irving drive seconds earlier. "He's a bad man," he yelled. He's accurate there. Irving is bad - in a good way.

He had 12 points in the fourth quarter when the Cavs outscored the Raptors, 33-23. For the second night in a row, the Cavs rallied from a double-digit deficit. It was 20 points on Friday, 11 against Toronto.

They've won three in a row and four of their last five.

They came into the game just 1-12 on the second night of a back-to-back set this season. Make that 2-12 now.

Newly acquired Marreese Speights (pronounced "Spates") was real good. He had 17 points, five rebounds and a block in 29 minutes. Guard Wayne Ellington was pretty good, too, with 12 points. He was 3 of 4 from behind the arc.

Speights gives them a legitimate big man off the bench. That was needed in a big way. Ellington is known for his outside shooting, but he's defended well in his two games.

The Cavs played without power forward Luke Walton on Saturday. He had an ankle injury.

The only other Cavs player in double figures was power forward Tristan Thompson, who had 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in his return to his hometown.

Irving added four rebounds, five assists and a steal. The All-Star converted 13 of 26 shots, 3 of 5 from behind the arc and 3 of 4 from the foul line.

For a stretch in the fourth quarter, Coach Byron Scott had Thompson on the floor with four guards - Irving, Dion Waiters, Shaun Livingston and Ellington.

On the down side, Daniel "Boobie" Gibson was knocked out of the game with a sprained big toe. He just got back from a concussion. He can't stay healthy.

Luckily for the Cavs, C.J. Miles will likely play on Tuesday against Golden State. He's missed the last three games with a virus. He's been in uniform and on the bench for the last two games, but hasn't played.

LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Milwaukee on Friday, 113-108.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Golden State at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Landry Fields (6-7, 214)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Ed Davis (6-10, 228)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Amir Johnson (6-9, 237)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs. DeMar DeRozan (6-7, 217)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jose Calderon (6-3, 208) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, G Josh Selby 
Raptors - C Andrea Bargnani, C Jonas Valanciunas
Jason Phillips, Dick Bavetta, Marat Kogut

Friday, January 25, 2013

Game 44: Bucks at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: Cavs forward/center Marreese Speights and shooting guard Wayne Ellington made their debuts with their new team on Friday.

Judging by the outcome of the game, we'll be seeing a lot of them in the future.

Speights, a noted Bucks' killer, had 10 points, six rebounds and two steals. He will fill the backup center role. He played inspired basketball. He was vocal on the court and was barking out orders.

The Cavs were in desperate need for a backup big man. They might have found one in the 6-10, 255-pound Speights.

Ellington made just one basket, but it was huge. He drained a 3-pointer with 6:31 remaining for a 96-95 lead. They never trailed thereafter. He also defended well against Bucks swingman Mike Dunleavy.

Ellington was playing small forward. He's a little undersized for the "3" spot, but he's a pretty husky guy.

Some have predicted the demise of Boobie Gibson, but he drained two big 3s on Friday. He's also a very good perimeter defender.

Bucks coach Jim Boylan, a disciple of Mike Fratello's coaching tree, took the reins on Jan. 8 when Scott Skiles and the Bucks mutually parted ways. Boylan is 6-3 since replacing Skiles.

The Cavs have won their last three home games, but are just 6-12 at The Q.

Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings was one of the players snubbed for the All-Star Game. He wanted to prove the league's coaches were wrong. Of course, Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving made it instead - and let me get this out of the way - is more deserving than Jennings.

Irving had 35 points on Friday. Jennings had 14 points and 12 assists. It's too bad he didn't make it, but there were only seven spots for the reserves. he wasn't better than either of the back-up guards, Irving or Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday. 

LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Boston on Tuesday, 95-90.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Toronto at 7 p.m. Saturday at Air Canada Centre.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Luc Mbah a Moute (6-8, 230)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Ersan Ilyasova (6-10, 235)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Larry Sanders (6-11, 235)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs. Monta Ellis (6-3, 185)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Brandon Jennings (6-1, 169) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, G Josh Selby 
Bucks - G Doron Lamb, C Joel Przybilla
Ed Malloy, James Williams, Sean Wright

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Game 43: Celtics at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Celtics have now lost four in a row. In Cleveland, that's treated with a ho-hum attitude. In Beantown, it's a major catastrophe. Call in the National Guard!

The Cavs, despite playing a bit short-handed, looked like a world-beater on Tuesday. That happens when point guard Kyrie Irving plays out of his mind. He had 40 points, one off his career high, and just destroyed the Celtics.

Celtics guards Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley are both outstanding defenders. We're talking All-Defensive team candidates. But they were no match for Irving on this night.

In the fourth quarter, he just took over. As Boston coach Doc Rivers said, that's when "Kyrie Irving happened." He's right, too. He was that good. It wasn't jump shots, either. He attacked the basket. Either he made a layup or shot free throws.

The Cavs found out on Monday that center Anderson Varejao would miss the rest of the season after getting a blood clot. That was terrible news.

That means rookie center Tyler Zeller will start the rest of the season. He's been very inconsistent this season, including against the Celtics on Tuesday. He made just 2 of 10 shots and fouled out. He ended with six points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

The problem is, there were no bigs sitting on the bench. Marreese Speights was en route to Cleveland and hadn't passed his physical yet, so he wasn't available to play.

With Tristan Thompson - he's oozing with confidence, Coach Byron Scott said - Zeller and Speights, the Cavs will have a decent big-man rotation. Finally.

Zeller's matchup with Kevin Garnett was not a pretty sight. But Zeller did compete, and that's all you can ask right now. He was perfectly suited as the third big, the first big man off the bench. Now, it times he's overmatched in the starting lineup. It will make him a better player.

Garnett loves trying to get into the head of young players like Zeller. My suggestion pre-game was if Garnett mentions any breakfast cereals, don't listen!

The Cavs made a big trade earlier in the day. Here's a link to the deal.

LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Utah on Saturday, 109-98.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Milwaukee at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Paul Pierce (6-7, 235)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Brandon Bass (6-8, 250)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Kevin Garnett (6-11, 253)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs. Avery Bradley (6-2, 180)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Rajon Rondo (6-1, 186) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, F/C Marreese Speights, G Wayne Ellington, G Josh Selby 
Celtics - C Fab Melo
Tom Washington, Courtney Kirkland, Kevin Scott

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cavs at Jazz

UTAH JAZZ (22-19) 109, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (10-32) 98
Energy Solutions Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs' last major road trip has ended just like it began - with a loss. They finished 1-4 on their journey out west.

The Cavs hung around with the Jazz on Saturday until the third quarter. Utah outscored the Cavs in the third, 31-20. How many times have I written the same thing this season? Ten times? Maybe more.

Whatever the Cavs do at halftime should be abolished. I'm not privy to what happens in the locker room at halftime. The coaches have to find a way to get through to the players during the intermission and ensure that they come out with some fire in the third.

They came out and sleepwalked in the early going of the second half and were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game.

The Jazz have won their last six games against the Cavs.

Coming into tonight's game, the focal point of the Cavs' game plan had to be finding a way to slow down Utah's deep and talented frontcourt. It was a no-brainer.

Jazz big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap normally have their way with the Cavs. But the Cavs held them in check. They found out that when Utah goes to the bench, it doesn't lose much with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

Millsap and Jefferson combined for 22 points and 16 rebounds. Cavs center Tyler Zeller and power forward Tristan Thompson combined for 25 points and 25 rebounds.

The problem was Favors fired in a season-high 19 points and eight rebounds, while Kanter added 14 points and five rebounds. The Cavs don't have a legitimate big on their bench. Luke Walton plays the "4" spot, but is more perimeter-oriented.

Another surprise, at least for me, was the play of Jazz shooting guard Randy Foye. He fired in a team-high 20 points, and was 4 of 8 from behind the arc.

Veteran point guard Earl Watson didn't score a point in the game, yet he impacted the outcome with nine of the Jazz's 30 assists.

For the Cavs, sixth man Dion Waiters was quite good on the offensive end with a game-high 23 points and three assists. He attacked the basket with a vengeance and was 10 of 12 from the foul line, both career highs. I loved the way he penetrated into the key and made things happen.

Point guard Kyrie Irving had a very quiet 18 points and nine assists. One would have thought that he would have lit up Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley. That wasn't the case. Tinsley, starting for the injured Mo Williams, had 11 points, four assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes.

Williams, who played for the Cavs for 2 1/2 seasons before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in February 2011, has been out since Dec. 23 with right thumb surgery.

I was definitely concerned with the Jefferson-Zeller matchup before the game. Zeller finished with 13 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and three blocks. He has 12 blocked shots in his last five games.

He competed. That's all anyone can ask from the 7-foot rookie.

Thompson ended with 12 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double in his last 16 games. He has 16 on the season. Soon, he'll be averaging a double-double, something that was predicted by Coach Byron Scott in the preseason.

The 6-9, 227-pounder is averaging 13.6 points and 12 rebounds in his last 16 games. He's shooting 50.4 percent from the field during that stretch.

LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Portland on Wednesday, 93-88.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Boston at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Marvin Williams (6-9, 237)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Paul Millsap (6-8, 258)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Al Jefferson (6-10, 289)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Randy Foye (6-4, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jamaal Tinsley (6-3, 188) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao
Jazz - G Mo Williams, G Raja Bell
Derrick Stafford, Tre Maddox, Zach Zarba

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Game 41: Cavs at Trail Blazers

Rose Garden
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: It's hard to believe we're at the halfway point in the season.

If Wednesday's game was any indication, the second half is going to be an exciting one. The Cavs nipped the Trail Blazers behind guard Kyrie Irving's game-high 31 points, three rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Irving drained 13 of 24 from the field, 1 of 4 from behind the arc and 4 of 4 from the foul line.

This was a duel between last year's Rookie of the Year (Irving) vs. the frontrunner for the award this year (Portland's Damian Lillard). Irving outscored him, 31-13, although Lillard had more assists, 7-5.

Irving made him look bad on a few occasions.

The Cavs snapped a three-game losing streak, all on this West Coast trip. So, they are 1-3 on the journey out west, with one game remaining on Saturday in Utah.

That one certainly won't be easy. Heck, they didn't play well in Utah when LeBron James was on the team. If they could somehow pull it out, a 2-3 trip would be outstanding.

I'm just tired of losing. Sure, I see some of the same things the Cavs see in some of these players. All four of the building blocks are intriguing. Power forward Tristan Thompson has made major strides in the last month.

Thompson had 19 points and a game-high 14 rebounds against the Blazers. He was 7 of 15 from the field, 5 of 10 from the foul line. Twice in the fourth quarter, he missed both free throws when going to the line. He's got to master his free-throw shooting. He's been around 80 percent as of late.

Thompson battled on the defensive end. He outplayed Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and made him work for his 15 points and 10 rebounds. Aldridge blocked game-high four shots.

Former Cavs center J.J. Hickson was very good, as well, with 13 points, 11 rebounds and one block. It was pretty much a standoff at center with the Cavs' Tyler Zeller. The rookie finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. He was 5 of 5 from the foul line.

It was a much better effort from Zeller, who had been manhandled in each of the previous two games.

Neither team's bench made much of an impact. The Cavs outscored Portland, 15-7. Cavs guard Dion Waiters, fresh off a 33-point performance in Sacramento, dropped off against the Blazers. He finished with five points and four rebounds.

That's the kind of up-and-down performances he's been giving Coach Byron Scott.

And, while we're on the subject of the bench, remember when Daniel Gibson used to play? Remember when he was really good? Now, he doesn't even get off the bench.

Portland has now lost four in a row, including back-to-back games at Denver and to the Cavs.

Tonight's game was every bit as exciting as the Dec. 1 meeting at The Q when the Blazers prevailed, 118-117, in double overtime.

Portland had won the last four meetings vs. the Cavs, its longest streak since the 2001-02 season.

The Cavs are forcing an average of 19 turnovers in the four games on this trip. Of course, they rank fourth in the NBA by forcing 15.8 turnovers per game.

Nicolas Batum paced the Blazers with 23 points, but he committed nine turnovers. That's hard to do for someone who doesn't really handle the ball that much.

KYRIE'S TIME COMING?: I believe Irving is going to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team. The Sporting News' Sean Deveney agrees with that sentiment.

LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Sacramento on Monday, 124-118.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Utah at 9 p.m. Saturday at Energy Solutions Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Nicolas Batum (6-8, 210)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. LaMarcus Aldridge (6-11, 255)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. J.J. Hickson (6-9, 239)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Wesley Matthews (6-5, 214)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Damian Lillard (6-3, 195) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao
Trail Blazers - G Elliot Williams, C Meyers Leonard
Ed Malloy, David Jones, Brenda Pantoja

Monday, January 14, 2013

Game 40: Cavs at Kings

Sleep Train Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: Where do we start? Let's start on the defensive end. The Kings' point total is a season high for a Cavs' opponent. They also shot 51.2 percent from the field, 47.4 percent from the 3-point line and 87.9 percent from the foul line.

Once again, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was a load with 26 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals. He's a major talent.

He's also a major pain in the you-know-what. He earned a flagrant-1 foul for hitting Cavs center Tyler Zeller in the face with 7:50 left in the third quarter.

For much of the game, Cousins punked Zeller. Zeller, a rookie from North Carolina, finally started to hold his ground and fight in the post. The 7-footer ended with 13 points, six rebound and a career-high four blocks.

Two Cavs players were outstanding. Shooting guard Dion Waiters erupted for a career-high 33 points and five assists. He kept them in the game in the late going. He made 12 of 18 from the field, 3 of 3 from the 3-point line and 6 of 8 from the foul line.

He drove to the basket strong in the game. It resembled a layup drill for a while. The 12 field goals made are also a career high.

Waiters' breakout game was needed since Kyrie Irving had an off night. He committed turnovers on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter. That just about iced it for the Kings.

Irving had 15 points, four assists and three steals. On the downside, he shot 6 of 19 from the field and committed six turnovers. That can't continue.

Also, power forward Tristan Thompson didn't back down from the Kings' talented frontcourt. Thompson had 17 points and 15 rebounds. It was his 13th double-double of the season. I was quite impressed with Thompson's game. He fought under the basket and guarded Cousins for some of the game.

The Cavs are 1-12 on the second night of a back-to-back set this season. This is a young team. It's not easy to win on the road, much less in a road back-to-back. The Cavs haven't mastered it yet, that's for sure.

Fox Sports Ohio announcer Austin Carr had an interesting comment during a recent game. He said players have to learn how to play when they're tired. Some players, once they're tired, stop playing. They have to eventually learn how to push through that threshold. The good ones do. The bad ones don't.

The Cavs are currently in that latter group.

They are 0-3 on their five-game, 12-day road trip. The last thing they want to do is finish 0-5 on this road trip. They'll be underdogs in Portland and Utah on the last two legs of the trip.

The Kings are 11-10 at Sleep Train Arena this season. By the way, when did they change their name from Arco Arena?

The Cavs scored 61 points in the second half on Monday, yet still lost by six points.

The Cavs had a six-game winning streak snapped against the Kings in Sacramento. The Kings hadn't won against the Cavs in Sacramento since Jan. 20, 2005. They now lead the all-time series, 54-53.

KYRIE'S TIME COMING?: I believe Irving is going to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team. The Sporting News' Sean Deveney agrees with that sentiment.

LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, 113-93.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Portland at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Rose Garden.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. John Salmons (6-6, 207)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Justin Thompson (6-11, 250)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. DeMarcus Cousins (6-11, 270)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Tyreke Evans (6-6, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Isaiah Thomas (5-9, 185) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao
Kings - F Tyler Honeycutt
Tony Brothers, Derek Richardson, Michael Smith

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Game 39: Cavs at Lakers

Staples Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Lakers entered the game riding a six-game losing streak. They sure didn't look like a team that was struggling.

They led from wire-to-wire. The Cavs were never in the game. They were sloppy with the ball (16 turnovers) and with their execution.

The Lakers put Kobe Bryant on Cavs guard Kyrie Irving and made him work for everything he got. He had 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He turned the ball over three times.

The Lakers got good news before the game when center Dwight Howard (torn labrum, right shoulder) got clearance from doctors to play. He was the difference in the game. He had 22 points, 14 rebounds and a block. Howard also had seven of the Lakers' 22 turnovers.

The Cavs' bigs played passively in the paint. They wanted nothing to do with the 6-foot-11 bruiser, especially Tyler Zeller. I know he's just a rookie. I also know Howard is one of the best centers in the league. But Zeller looked like he was afraid of Howard.

He ended with six points and five rebounds. He was just 1 of 7 from the field.

I'm not saying he needs to go in and dunk over Howard. But at least compete.

Tristan Thompson wasn't a whole lot better, but at least he had 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Things got so bad in the late going, Coach Byron Scott was forced to play Jon Leuer at center. That will only happen when the game's totally out of hand.

The Cavs need to sign a big man to fill out the roster. I threw out Eric Micheal's name the other day. What about JaJuan Johnson of the Canton Charge? He's 6-11, 220. He might not be a center, but he's got to be better than Leuer.

The Lakers played without forward/center Pau Gasol (concussion), guard Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) and forward/center Jordan Hill (labral tear, left hip/herniated disk). Hill is out for the sesason.

Remember, the Lakers still have all-time greats Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in their backcourt. Bryant is the league's leading scorer at 30 per game.

He's playing at a high level right now. Bryant had 23 points and six assists.

The Lakers also got 16 points from ex-Cavs forward Antawn Jamison.

Cavs guard Dion Waiters matched Irving's 15 points. However, Waiters was just 7 of 18 from the field and had a team-high four turnovers. He seems to be settling in to his role as sixth man.

Starter C.J. Miles couldn't make a shot against the Lakers. He was 1 of 9 from the field. He had one rebound, no assists and two turnovers in 17 minutes.

He was really bad.

Daniel Gibson returned from a concussion. He looks like he's been out for two weeks.

The Cavs are now 0-2 on the five-game, 12-day road trip. They traveled to Sacramento after the game for a back-to-back on the road. They are 1-11 on the back end of a back-to-back set this season. They are also just 5-18 on the road this season.

Unless something changes, it could all add up to an 0-5 trip.

LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Denver on Friday, 98-91.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Sacramento at 10 p.m. Monday at Arco Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Metta World Peace (6-7, 260)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Earl Clark (6-10, 225)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Dwight Howard (6-11, 270)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Kobe Bryant (6-6, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Steve Nash (6-3, 180) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao
Lakers - F/C Jordan Hill, G Steve Blake
Danny Crawford, Courtney Kirkland, JT Orr

Friday, January 11, 2013

Game 38: Cavs at Nuggets

Pepsi Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Nuggets improved to 13-2 at home this year. They had to work hard to slip past the pesky Cavs.

The Nuggets have now won four in a row. All five starters were in double figures for Denver, led by forward Danilo Gallinari. His 3-pointer with 54 seconds left iced it for the Nuggets.

Other than point guard Kyrie Irving, not many of the Cavs played well. Irving had a game-high 28 points, seven assists and five steals. He shot 11 of 26 from the field, 2 of 9 from behind the arc and 4 of 5 from the foul line.

If it seemed like the Cavs got bullied on the boards, it's because they did, 56-35. That's embarrassing.

Center Tyler Zeller paced the Cavs with eight rebounds. Many of his 33 minutes were "invisible." He just ran around out there. He managed two points, on a late follow slam. Remember when he was draining jump shots. That doesn't happen any more.

He did block three shots.

The Nuggets played two 7-footers together on the court for much of the game. Of course, they have three 7-footers on their roster. By the way, I've never seen Kosta Koufos play as well as he did on Friday. The former Ohio State center had a career-high 21 points, six rebounds and one block.

He played inspired basketball.

Power forward Kenneth Faried is one of my favorite players. He's relentless on the boards. He's averaging 9.9 rebounds per game. He had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He always has a smile on his face, even when he's grabbing your jersey and throwing an elbow into your chops.

A lot of teams missed on Faried, who led the nation in scoring the year he was coming out in the draft.

This is the start of a five-game, 10-day road trip for the Cavs. This is a rugged trip for the Cavs, with stops in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland and Utah. They could go 0-5 on the trip. I bet they'll win one game no one expects to win.

That could have come on Friday had they not been outscored in the fourth quarter, 26-15. The Cavs just served it on a platter to the Nuggets. Sure, the Cavs played hard, but they didn't always play smart. Their 15 turnovers led to 14 Denver points.

The Nuggets committed 22 turnovers on the night.

They are not going to make it to the NBA Finals, but I like this Denver team. Any team that brings Andre Miller off the bench is a deep squad.

One of the funniest things I've ever encountered had to do with Miller, a former Cavs' first-round pick. He had a little kid in the locker room sitting next to him at The Q. Radio reporter Jeff Sack made over the little kid and finally told Miller what a cute little girl he had.

Miller wasn't happy.

"He's a dude, man!" Miller yelped.

Sack backed out of the locker room embarrassed.

LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Atlanta on Wednesday, 99-83.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to the Los Angeles Lakers at 9:30 p.m. Sunday at Staples Center.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Danilo Gallinari (6-10, 225)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Kenneth Faried (6-8, 228)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Kosta Koufos (7-0, 265)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs.Andre Iguodala (6-6, 207)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Ty Lawson (5-11, 196) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao
Nuggets - F Wilson Chandler, F Quincy Miller
Bennett Salvatore, Dick Bavetta, Kevin Cutler

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Game 37: Hawks at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs won for the first time in almost a month at home. Their last win at The Q was on Dec. 11 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

They are now 4-12 at home.

Why is this team so bad at home? They should be around .500 at home. I can understand their struggles on the road. It's hard to win on the road. At home, you are normally rested. You're sleeping in your own beds. You have your home crowd behind you.

Teams, even young ones, are usually pretty good at home. Not the Cavs. Maybe this will be the start of some good times at The Q.

The Hawks are going through some tough times. They've lost four in a row. Coach Larry Drew was the NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for December with a 10-5 record, . That was the first such honor of his career.

They looked uninspired on Wednesday. They couldn't defend Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, who had a game-high 33 points.

He had a fantastic game shooting the ball. That included a 5-for-6 performance from behind the arc.

It was strange how inspired the Cavs played with the news earlier in the day of center Anderson Varejao facing knee surgery. He'll go under the knife on Thursday. He'll be out six to eight weeks. He says he wants to play again this year, but he said that last year, too.

Then, they held him out in the last few games. We'll see what happens.

It sounds like the Cavs found out that he "split" his quadriceps tendon on Monday. Coach Byron Scott spoke with ominous tones on Tuesday when speaking to the media. Now we know why.

LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Chicago on Monday, 118-92.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Denver at 9 p.m. Friday at Pepsi Center.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Josh Smith (6-9, 225)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Al Horford (6-10, 250)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Zaza Pachulia (6-11, 250)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs.Kyle Korver, (6-7, 212)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jeff Teague (6-2, 181) 
Cavs – F Luke Walton, C Anderson Varejao
Hawks - G DeShawn Stevenson
James Capers, Tony Brown, Scott Twardoski

Monday, January 7, 2013

Game 36: Cavs at Bulls

United Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Bulls-Cavs' match-up is normally decided before the tip-off. The Bulls have won their last 11 meetings against the Cavs. The Cavs haven't won in the lopsided series since March 19, 2010.

The 26-point beatdown is about on par with how the Cavs are usually manhandled by the Bulls.

Coach Byron Scott should show this game video to his team repeatedly. First off, the Bulls are so well-coached.. Tom Thibodeau is a master. He knows defense.

His team came into the game ranked third in points allowed, sixth in field-goal percentage and second in 3-point percentage.

Then they proceeded to take the Cavs apart.

They were most impressive on offense, setting screens, making cuts and making the right passes. For basketball purists, they are fun to watch.

The Cavs aren't.

They have one marquee player in Kyrie Irving. He's either asked to do too much or shoulders too much. It's the point guard's job to get his teammates involved. He just doesn't have enough around him to be competitive.

He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and six assists. He committed just three turnovers in 29 minutes. Irving has 19 turnovers in his last four games. He is such a good ballhandler and passer, he shouldn't be that careless with the ball.

He has to value every possession.

Guard Dion Waiters paced the Cavs with 18 points and six rebounds. He actually shot better than 50 percent from the field - a rarity - as he made 6 of 11 from the field. Most of his points came late in the game after it had been decided.

Scott yanked all of his starters in the fourth quarter. Thibodeau kept the pedal to the metal. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah played deep into the fourth. Boozer had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Luol Deng was particularly impressive with 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals. He's just a pro's pro.

Noah had 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. With no Anderson Varejao to keep him in check, he had a free rein in the paint. Rookie center Tyler Zeller put up little resistance.

The more I'm seeing Zeller, the more I'm feeling that he's overwhelmed right now with being the starting center. Sure, this is the first time he's facing a lot of these guys. But he's not physically strong enough or tough enough to compete at a real high level.

He was way better off coming off the bench.

The Bulls looked great. I wonder why they are just 10-8 at home this year. It's a shocking stat in my opinion

Unfortunately, the Cavs aren't very good on the road (or at home, for that matter). They are 5-16 on the road this year. However, the Cavs were 3-1 in their previous four road games.

Varejao could be just days away from returning. It appears as if he'll try to practice on Tuesday. If there are no problems, he could return vs. Atlanta on Wednesday.

I'm skeptical whether he'll return from his knee "contusion" on Tuesday. I'm afraid there's a more serious problem with the knee. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

Guard Daniel Gibson can return on Tuesday from his concussion. If he can make a few shots, he'd be a welcomed sight right now.

With Luke Walton out on Monday to deal with a personal matter, Kevin Jones stepped in as the backup power forward. I think he'll replace Walton on a permanent basis.

Of course, Samardo Samuels is no longer in the picture. He went from promising prospect to being unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

It might be nice to get a gauge on whether the undersized Jones has any long-range potential. We already know Walton doesn/t.

OMRI WANTS OUT?: Cavs forward Omri Casspi has fallen completely out of Scott's rotation. He has reportedly asked to be traded. This was reported by Yahoo! Sports.

SOAPBOX TIME: Who in their right mind scheduled this game opposite the BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame? That person should be harshly reprimanded.

I thought the NBA normally stayed away from this game and the Final Four basketball games. Maybe I'm mistaken.

LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Houston on Saturday, 112-104.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Atlanta at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Luol Deng (6-9, 220)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Carlos Boozer (6-9, 266)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Joakim Noah (6-11, 232)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Rip Hamilton (6-7, 193)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Kirk Hinrich (6-4, 190) 
Cavs – G Daniel Gibson, C Anderson Varejao
Bulls - G Derrick Rose
Jason Phillips, Kane Fitzgerald, J.T. Orr

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Game 35: Rockets at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs fell apart in the fourth quarter. That was just about the time Rockets shooting guard James Harden picked up his play.

He had 16 of his team-high 29 points. Harden is so talented offensively. He had seven steals, two rebounds, three assists and one block.

Cavs point guard Kyie Irving is a budding superstar. There's no question about that. He closed out the game in Charlotte on Friday with 16 points in the fourth.

On Saturday, he wasn't nearly as effective. He had a game-high 30 points, but committed eight turnovers. That matched his career high.

Until he gets a handle on those turnovers - 16 now in the last three games - he'll never be the player he can be.

I truly believe he was fatigued in the fourth. He played the entire quarter. Coach Byron Scott played him because of the ineffectiveness of his other guards.

That magic that Shaun Livingston had on Friday, he left it in North Carolina. C.J. Miles made just 4 of 14 shots. Dion Waiters, who sulked much of the night because of a couple non-calls by the refs, had 13 points and five rebounds.

But he shot just 4 of 13 from the field.

That forced Scott to play Irving a season-high 41 minutes.
There were some bright spots for the Cavs. Power forward Tristan Thompson was once again very good with his 12th double-double of the season. He had 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

Power forward Kevin Jones was summoned from deep inside the Q (borrowing an Austin Carr phrase). He had a career-high six points and three rebounds in 12 minutes.

Why was he even playing? Luke Walton was horrible, almost as bad as he was the night before. Perhaps the luster has worn off on Walton.

Center Tyler Zeller has struggled over the last two weeks. He did finish with 12 points, five rebounds and a career-high five assists. He needs to hit the boards with a vengeance, much like Thompson is doing.

The Rockets have now won four in a row.

They boast one of the league's most talented and exciting backcourts in Harden and Jeremy Lin. They outscored their Cavs' counterparts, 49-39.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey, a graduate of Medina Highland High School, has put together a deep and talented roster. Coach Kevin McHale brings Patrick Patterson and Carlos Delfino, among others, off the bench.

The Cavs now have a 1-11 record on the second night of a back-to-back set this year. If it seems like the Cavs have had a ton of back-to-backs, it's because they have. Tonight's was their 11th this year.

They dropped to 3-12 at home, which is horrible.

DRAFT UPDATE: A quick look at Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix's.draft rundown

LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Charlotte on Friday, 106-104.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Chicago at 8 p.m. Monday at the United Center.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Chandler Parsons (6-9, 227)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Marcus Morris (6-9, 225)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Omer Asik (7-0, 255)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. James Harden (6-5, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jeremy Lin (6-3, 200) 
Cavs – G Daniel Gibson, C Anderson Varejao, F Jon Leuer
Rockets - F Terrence Jones, F Royce White
Tony Brothers, James Williams, Sean Wright

Friday, January 4, 2013

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Game 33: Kings at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Kings are in the midst of playing four games in five nights on the road. They lost at Detroit on Tuesday.

They were 1-13 on the road coming into Wednesday's game, 0-4 vs. the Eastern Conference. The Cavs had won 10 of their last 11 games vs. the Kings, including a 5-1 mark at The Q.

So, what happened? Yep, the Cavs once again failed to protect their home turf. They are exactly the same at home as they are on the road. Bad.

They are supposed to be developing their young talent this year. Instead, that young talent is regressing in many ways. Once again, Kyrie Irving was mediocre. Sure, he had a game-high 22 points. However, he was disengaged for much of the game. He wasn't being aggressive making plays.

He's too talented to be playing like this. The most discouraging sign of his night was his three turnovers in the final 3:50 of the game. When they needed him the most, he broke down.

Rookie Dion Waiters finished with 20 points, but he appeared to be miffed about being demoted from the starting lineup. He just launched shots for much of the night.

Tyler Zeller didn't play well, either, and he hasn't for the last week or so. He struggled trying to defend DeMarcus Cousins, who ended with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Zeller had eight points and eight rebounds.

Cousins in a major talent. He can also step out on the floor and make 18-footers, which I hadn't seen before.  The Kings say he isn't going to be traded. If he is, it can't be to a team like the Cavs. It would have to be to a team like New York or Boston, teams that have strong veteran players to keep him in line.

If he came to the Cavs as one media member thought should happen (no names, please), he would soon be a major voice in the locker room. The Cavs have no veterans that speak up. He also doesn't fit the culture with which they are trying to build.

Power forward Tristan Thompson played hard, but was in foul trouble. He ended with nine points and 13 rebounds. He's been pretty darn good the last couple weeks. Most think it's because Cavs center Anderson Varejao (bruised right knee) has been out of the lineup.

By the way, Varejao has now missed seven consecutive games (the Cavs are 2-5).

He must have some bruised knee. There are rumors that it's much worse. Of course, I'm not a doctor (I just play one on television). Just kidding.

He is still experiencing pain when he tries to push off on his leg.

Guard Daniel Gibson (concussion) is perhaps days from coming back. His outside shooting is needed.

For the Kings, guards Tyreke Evans (sore left knee) and Marcus Thornton (sprained left ankle) missed Wednesday's game.

Shaun Livingston made his Cavs' debut and had two points, two rebounds and one assist in 13 minutes. He is long, if nothing else.

As a brief aside, can you believe how little Thomas Robinson plays for the Kings. He had two points and two rebounds in eight minutes. He was the fifth pick in the draft. Why isn't he playing? That's the only way he'll get better. This isn't a playoff team. Aren't they trying to develop their young players?

LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Brooklyn on Saturday, 103-100.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Charlotte at 7 p.m. Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. John Salmons (6-6, 207)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Jason Thompson (6-11, 250)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. DeMarcus Cousins (6-11, 270)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Francisco Garcia (6-7, 195)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Isaiah Thomas (5-9, 185) 
Cavs – G Daniel Gibson, C Anderson Varejao
Kings - G Tyreke Evans
Scott Foster, Nick Buchert, Gary Zielinski