The Cleveland Cavaliers hung on to win against the New Jersey Nets 105-100 at Prudential Center on Monday night.
The Nets (15-32), who have only managed to win five out of 22 games at home this season, trailed the Cavaliers (17-26) for almost all of the first half, but a surge in the second quarter allowed the Nets to creep back into the game. The Nets led in the fourth quarter, but then Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving reminded people why he’s already being called “Mr. Fourth Quarter.”
Irving, who scored a total of 26 points in the win, produced often in the fourth quarter when it mattered. 14 of his 26 points came in the final quarter, proving once again that the Cavaliers can go to the rookie point guard late in the game when the team is down. What used to be LeBron James’ job has quickly evolved into Irving’s responsibility, as Cleveland did not know who to go to last season when the team was down late in the game. It seems that head coach Byron Scott has found his man, as Irving has learned to unleash his abilities whenever his team calls on him to do so. Irving could be Cleveland’s go-to guy for a long time.
The Cavs other first-round pick Tristan Thompson also had a solid outing against the Nets, scoring a career-high 27 points and collecting 12 rebounds, accounting for his fourth double-double of the season. Thompson played great down low in the paint, where most of his 16 shots were attempted. Thompson shot an incredible 75 percent from the field, better than any player on the floor Monday night who attempted 10 shots or more.
So the two first-round picks accounted for 53 of the team’s 105 points, which means Irving and Thompson accounted for more than half of the team’s total score. That’s an amazing feat for two players who are in their rookie season in the NBA. What we saw tonight from the two rookie sensations is what fans have been looking for all season; a game where the chemistry between Irving and Thompson powered the Cavaliers to a win.
The Nets also had a pair of players who both scored 26 points or more each. Star point guard Deron Williams scored 28 points and dished out eight assists while Gerald Wallace, who used to play for the Portland Trailblazers but was acquired by New Jersey in a trade, added 27 points and 12 rebounds, bringing the two starters total to 55 points. Although the two veteran stars outscored the breakthrough rookies, it wasn’t enough to put the Nets over the top.
One Cavalier player who had an off night was forward Alonzo Gee. Gee, who started the game, fouled out of the game on a night where he under produced compared to last few games. He managed to score eight points and grabbed seven rebounds in his 29 minutes on the court.
Antawn Jamison’ s shooting troubles continued as he let the ball fly once again, attempting 20 shots and only connecting on five of them. However, he did manage to record a double-double for the sixth time this season with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The bench made up for Jamison’s lackluster shooting night and Gee’s early exit. Rookie guard Donald Sloan and Samardo Samuels made up for the beating that the bench took on Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks by adding a combined 21 points off the bench to the Cavaliers score. Sloan scored his first points as a Cavalier and finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Samuels was a perfect 5-5 from the field, adding 10 points and collecting six rebounds, four of which that were offensive boards. Samuels, who has came on as of late for the Cavs, is fighting to make himself a permanent fixture in coach Scott’s bench picture.
But all did not go in Cleveland’s favor Monday night as guard Daniel Gibson left the game in the third quarter with an apparent ankle injury. Status on Gibson’s injury will be reported as soon as news is released on it.
The Cavaliers will have a day off from playing as they head to Atlanta to face the Hawks for the second time in four days at Philips Arena at 7:30 Wednesday night. After Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Hawks, the Cavaliers will come out with a little more passion and enthusiasm as they try to avenge the 16-point loss earlier in the week.