After trailing by three at the half, the Cleveland Cavaliers took over the third and fourth quarters to coast to a 113-102 win over the Utah Jazz. The Jazz had won four straight games at home before the Cavaliers came to town. The newly energized Cavs were coming off a much-needed home win against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Luol Deng’s Cavs debut was a quiet 4-8 shooting for ten points in his twenty-one minutes. Only one rebound for the Chicago Bulls’ acquisition, but Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao didn’t leave much room underneath the hoop, combining for twenty-nine boards.
The game turned in the second half due to Kyrie Irving’s seventeen-point performance in the third quarter on his way to lead all scorers with twenty-five. He could have easily tied his season high of nineteen in a quarter, but opted to let C.J. Miles finish a fast break after one of his five steals.
Miles continued his red hot January with another seventeen points, shooting an impressive 6-7 from the field. This month, Miles is averaging twenty-one points a game shooting nearly fifty-four percent. In the past he has shown the ability to put up these numbers in single games, but never with the consistency or efficiency he is showing now.
Thompson is starting to show what fans have long known about the young Cavalier—maturity would eventually catch up to his talent. This season he is averaging essentially a double-double and last night’s eighteen points and fifteen rebounds highlighted what Tristan can do best—work the paint. All twelve of his shots came from underneath the hoop.
Since he has come to the Cavaliers, Anderson Varejao has found ways to affect games even when he has difficulty scoring. For some players, shooting 1-6 during thirty-three minutes would drag a team down, but Varejao bolstered that poor performance by pulling down fourteen rebounds.
Not to be left behind by the starting core, the Cavaliers bench continued their trend of scoring big when Kyrie and Miles need a breather. Dion Waiters is putting together a resume for sixth man of the year. If people want to make comparisons between the 2013-14 Cavaliers and 2011-12 Oklahoma City Thunder, Dion Waiters is our James Harden. The fearless sixth-man playing about thirty minutes a game and roughly the same points per game. In the 2011-12 season Harden averaged 16.8 points per game. As of today, Waiters is averaging 15.2 a game.
Back-to-back easy wins for a Cavs squad that will only get better with Deng, gives Cleveland fans something to root for just when hope was slowly sliding away.
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