Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Half-Strength Lakers beat Cavaliers 119-108

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WOW. What a game. And I mean that not in a good way or a bad way, but in a BAH GAWD WHAT THE DEVIL WAS GOING ON IN THAT GAME. In the worst (best?) way possible, it was one of the most entertaining games I have ever watched. A comeback from a 29 point deficit spearheaded by C.J. Miles, Matthew Dellavedova, and Anthony Bennett, a Lakers team that ran out of players to put on the court, and even a Steve Blake triple-double all happened in this game and ohmygawd was it something.

Although the Cavs lost by a final score of 119 – 108, that doesn’t begin to tell the story of this game. It was really something. The Cavs played one of the most embarrassing two quarters defensively I’ve ever seen in the first half, giving the Lakers anything and everything they wanted to shoot. At one point late in the first quarter, the Lakers were shooting 82% from the field, and they gave up 70 points in the first half.

The beginning of the second half was ugly too, with the Cavs demonstrating a similar level of ineptitude as the first half. However, the Cavs were able to rally behind an unlikely bench group of Matthew Dellavedova, C.J. Miles, and (I am so happy to say) Anthony Bennett. These guys brought energy, intensity, and confident play off the pine, and really impressed me. Granted, it was against one of the most banged-up units in the league, who were probably fatigued from the time they were playing, but it was still great to see them have an impact.

The final score, as aforementioned, really doesn’t reflect how ugly this game was to watch, especially in the first half. Without a doubt the star of this game was C.J. Miles (27 Pts, 7 – 15 FG) , who my respect for grows by the day. Despite probably being the most consistent wing the Cavs have had all year, his play time has been inconsistent, as the Cavs gave time to young guys and the guys they paid money for. Yet when he was called upon tonight with the Cavs already down big, he brought intensity, energy, and hot shooting, and was a big reason why this game even became watchable in the fourth quarter. Matthew Dellavedova’s energy (eight points, four rebounds and five assists) was also great to watch; after all the money spent in the offseason, one of the Cavs most consistent producers is an undrafted rookie free agent. Great stuff.

The final score, as aforementioned, really doesn’t reflect how ugly this game was to watch, especially in the first half. Without a doubt the star of this game was C.J. Miles (27 Pts, 7 – 15 FG) , who my respect for grows by the day. Despite probably being the most consistent wing the Cavs have had all year, his play time has been inconsistent, as the Cavs gave time to young guys and the guys they paid money for. Yet when he was called upon tonight with the Cavs already down big, he brought intensity, energy, and hot shooting, and was a big reason why this game even became watchable in the fourth quarter. Matthew Dellavedova’s energy (eight points, four rebounds and five assists) was also great to watch; after all the money spent in the offseason, one of the Cavs most consistent producers is an undrafted rookie free agent. Great stuff.

But what made me happiest about this game was what I saw from Anthony Bennett (14 points, eight rebounds and two steals). After being bombarded by every critic and their brother, I saw an Anthony Bennett tonight that was aggressive on offense, crashed the boards, and really made some nice plays that helped lead the Cavs back in the game. Since Earl Clark has been virtually invisible for the most part this season, I am all for Mike Brown continuing to give Bennett extended minutes so that his confidence can grow. I really felt like I saw a different Anthony Bennett on the court tonight. With all that praise being said, I’m also taking the results with a grain of salt, as he was playing against a tired group of players that would probably be backups on another team.

ROSTER ANALYSIS

 STARTERS

PG Kyrie Irving – 28 Minutes, 11 Points (5 – 14 FG, 0 – 5 3FG), six rebounds, four assists, four steals, -25 +/- differential

Yikes, tough day at the office for Irving. Especially defensively, where he basically let Blake and Farmar do whatever they wanted to offensively. In a curious decision, Mike Brown decided to bench Irving down the stretch; I stepped out of the room a couple times, so I may have missed any injury news, but if not, I find it a bit strange that he didn’t get a minute of play time down the stretch, especially with Dion Waiters struggling. I know playing Dellavedova / Irving would be a small backcourt, but I would still prefer it to playing Waiters down the stretch.

SG Jarrett Jack – 17 Minutes, seven points (2 – 5 FG, 0 – 2 3FG), four rebounds, one assist, -21 +/- differential

What a disappointment this guy has been, a disappointing part of a very disappointing team. I think a lot of people saw him as a Jason Terry, J.R. Smith “instant offense off the bench” guy, but it just hasn’t happened. The Cavs invested $25 Million for this guy, so there’s pressure to play him, but this deal is looking worse and worse by the day.

SF Luol Deng  – 24 Minutes, three points (1 – 10 FG, 0 – 2 3FG), three rebounds, two assists, -18 +/- differential

An absolute train-wreck of a game for Deng, in a matchup that on paper he should have feasted on. Really disappointing to see that the guys he matched up with (Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly) have such big games too. I’m a Deng fan, but let’s hope he doesn’t put together too many more clunkers like this one.

PF Tristan Thompson – 24 Minutes, 13 points (4 – 8 FG, 5 – 8 FT), eight rebounds, -18 +/- differential

Not a bad game by Thompson, but also one that failed to leave much of an imprint in my mind. Didn’t get much play time down the stretch because Bennett and Varejao were getting extended minutes.

C Anderson Varejao – 35 Minutes, 15 Points (7 – 16 FG) 13 rebounds,five assists, +13 +/- differential

Without a doubt the best night of any Cavs starter. Andy played very well in the paint and on the glass, where the Cavs actually out-rebounded the Lakers by 17. Also was the lone starter in down the stretch along with Waiters, Dellavedova, Bennett, and Miles.

BENCH STAR

G  C.J. Miles – 29 Minutes, 27 Points (7 – 15 FG, 4 – 11 3FG, 9 – 10 FT), three rebounds, three assists

Stellar game from Miles. Coming in off the pine with the Cavs down a bunch already, Miles worked hard to trim the deficit, and put together a very nice day of work, and was one of the only reasons why this game was anything other than a total blowout. The only reason why his shooting percentage wasn’t a little bit better was because he launched a couple desperation shots at the end.

COACH’S CORNER

Down the stretch I had no qualms with the lineup he had, with the exception of playing Dion Waiters. The guy had one flashy dunk, but overall was (to me) a detriment to the team with his shot selection and poor efficiency. I would really have rather give Irving more minutes; unless I missed an injury, your top guy needs to be on the court in critical situations.

I think it may be time to start giving less attention to the guys you paid for, and more to the guys that are actually producing. On almost a nightly basis, C.J. Miles provides good energy and scoring. Both Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark have been huge disappointments this season, and I am all for benching them in favor of a guy that is a much more consistent producer.

I’m really not a Mike Brown fan, and the disappointment from this team grows greater by the day. There’s no reason that the Cavs, without any notable injuries, acquiring Luol Deng, and playing in the Eastern Conference, shouldn’t currently have a playoff spot. Yet here they are, in the midst of an awful season, with a chance to make the playoffs, because it’s the Eastern conference. So with a great chance to win a game against a very banged-up opponent at home, and they come out playing like they want to get the number one pick next year. Absolutely flat. This truly is shocking to me, that a team can come out looking as bad as they did. Where is the sense of urgency? And don’t try telling me they’re trying to tank, if so, they wouldn’t have gotten Deng. This is just a shockingly disappointing basketball team, who really doesn’t seem like they’re making any strides game-to-game.

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Tags: Anderson Varejao C.J. Miles Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters Kyrie Irving Tristan Thompson

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