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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Game 65: Cavs at Suns

U.S. Airways Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Cavs snapped a four-game losing streak with this wire-to-wire victory over the Suns. 

They burst out of the chutes in the first quarter and outscored the Suns, 37-24.

Center Spencer Hawes played out of his mind in the first quarter with 17 points. He had just two points thereafter. He ended with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Guard Kyrie Irving played like he was the best player on the floor. Shouldn't that always be the case? 

He led all scorers with 23 points. He made 9 of 19 shots from the field, 3 of 6 from behind the arc. He added nine rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Irving won the battle against Suns point guard Goran Dragic, who ended with 20 points, five assists and two steals. He was 8 of 19 from the floor, 2 of 6 from the 3-point line.

Suns power forward Markieff Morris had another big game with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He averaged 22.5 points and 14 rebounds in the two games against the Cavs.

Phoenix has now lost three in a row and has dropped to ninth in the Western Conference playoff race. 

The Cavs are 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the No. 8 playoff spot in the East with 17 games to play. The problem is they are now the 11th seed and would need to over take three teams (the Hawks, New York and Detroit) to get in the playoffs.

This was the opening leg of a rugged three-game West Coast trip. They face Golden State on Friday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Irving said they need to win all three. It might be up to him to get the job done.

The Cavs have lost backup power forward Anthony Bennett for perhaps the rest of the season. He has a strained left patellar tendon.

They still don't have swngman C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle) back in the lineup yet. He might return for the Warriors game. His long-distance shooting was missed. He's been sidelined for the last 10 games.

Cavs center Anderson Varejao had his minutes increased to 15 on Wednesday. He had six points and seven rebounds. He'll assume the backup role at center behind Hawes. Tyler Zeller, who had fallen out of the rotation in favor of Bennett, will be the backup at "4."

Forward Luol Deng had a strong game with 18 points and nine rebounds.

The Cavs bullied the Suns on the boards, 51-36. That's the way they need to play in these games against the West. They have to dominate the boards, especially on defense, and defend. They held the Suns to 43 percent shooting from the field.

The Suns played without small forward P.J. Tucker, who was suspended by the NBA for one game for throwing an elbow at Clippers forward Blake Griffin's chin. The casual fan might not know much about Tucker, but he's a valuable and productive player for the Suns.

The Cavs snapped a four-game losing streak to the Suns, including a 99-90 setback at The Q on Jan. 26. The Cavs squandered a 61-41 lead in that game by scoring six points in the third quarter. The Suns embarked on a 40-9 run in the contest.

The Cavs are 10-23 on the road this season, 11-15 vs. the West.

So, they are 1-0 on the trip. Onto Oakland to face the Warriors.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Golden State at 10:30 p.m. Friday at Oracle Arena.

SF Luol Deng (6-9, 220) vs. Marcus Morris (6-8, 225)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Channing Frye (6-11, 255)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Miles Plumlee (6-11, 255)
SG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Gerald Green (6-8, 210)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Goran Dragic (6-3, 195)
Cavs - G/F Sergey Karasev, G Carrick Felix, G/F C.J. Miles
Suns F/C Emeka Okafor, G Leandro Barbosa
Tony Brothers, Kane Fitzgerald, Eli Roe


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