The Los Angeles Clippers (15-8) lost at Quicken Loans Arena to the Cleveland Cavaliers (10-14) for the ninth time in a row Wednesday night 99-92.
The Clippers, currently the third-best team in the Western Conference, could not find a way to fight back as they never regained control of the game after being up 28-22 early in the second quarter.
Near the end of the first half, the Cavaliers gained some momentum and went into the locker room tied with Los Angeles 40-40. Although the Cavaliers didn’t play anywhere near perfect in the first half, as they turned over the ball seven times in the first quarter and only totaled six bench points in the first half. Forward Christian Eyenga scored all six first-half bench points.
So the Cavs are going into the locker room tied with, at the time, the second-best team in the Western Conference. All-Star Blake Griffin was held to only six points in the first 24 minutes of play. I also forgot to mention that Anthony Parker (back) and rookies Tristan Thompson (ankle) and Kyrie Irving (concussion) all sat out with injuries. How are the Cavs in this thing?
Easy answer. Physicality. With Anderson Varejao missing almost all of last season, Cleveland was lacking a dominant force. They have that overwhelming force back in the lineup this season, and he’s averaging 11.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
While everyone watching was in hope for a Chris Paul (Coach Byron Scott’s old student) and Irving matchup, they got something a little different; Andy vs. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Although the final stat line shows that Griffin recorded more rebounds than Varejao, it doesn’t show the hustle and heart Andy displayed on the court Wednesday. He finished 6-8 from the field with 15 points and 11 rebounds, recording his fourteenth double-double of the season. That ranks him second in the East in double doubles behind Dwight Howard and tied with Greg Monroe. Get this guy an Eastern All-Star jersey pronto.
Enough about Andy, I’ll save that for another time. Here are three things I liked/ with the Wine and Gold’s performance against the Clips:
1. No Parker, no Irving, no problem. Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions, usually bench players, started the game due to injuries at the guard position and played brilliantly. Sessions scored 24 points on 9-16 shooting and recorded 13 assists. The rest of the team had 11.
2. Gibson also played great when it counted. While playing 36 minutes Gibson recorded 17 points that included some clutch three-pointers down the stretch. Once the Cavaliers get healthy, they’re going to have one of the NBA’s best guard depths. How appropriate that we were facing Mo Williams, randy Foye and Paul a day after Chauncey Billups was declared out for the season.
3. It’s good to see Antawn Jamison put together back-to-back season-high performances. He put up 27 points, topping his 25-point game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday. And did anyone see that and one in the third quarter?! Nasty.
The turnovers are still a huge problem, but the Cavs cut back in the final three quarters. That’s what I think led to their success. And even though Alonzo Gee didn’t have the best shooting night off the bench, he deserves the start over Omri Casspi (1-3, 2 points, 1 rebound).
The Cavaliers continue their 9-game home stand, the second longest in NBA history, against the Milwaukee Bucks (11-14) on Friday.