The Cleveland Cavaliers finished off their 12-day road trip Friday night with a big win over the Houston Rockets, 91-77. The Rockets could not find a solution for the Wine & Gold’s stifling defense. Even the self-proclaimed “greatest all-around player in the NBA”, James Harden, couldn’t figure out the Cavs enigma. Harden finished the night with just 11 points on 2/10 shooting, to go along with 8 turnovers and 5 fouls.
The rest of the Houston players followed Harden’s example. As a team, the Rockets finished the night with 18 total turnovers, and shot just 35.1% from the field. Cleveland continued to show why they are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, which will be vital to their playoff success.
Although the Wine & Gold shot just 39.1% on the night, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James were able to pick up enough of the offensive load to lead the Cavaliers to victory. Irving, who had been inconsistent since his return from injury, finally looked to have all of his confidence and scoring ability back. He finished the night with 23 points on 9/17 shooting, and also grabbed 4 rebounds. LBJ scored 19 points on 7/14 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 blocks.
Most of the other Cavs players struggled putting the ball in the hoop, but there were still a few guys who had a major impact on the game. Kevin Love, Matthew Dellavedova, and Anderson Varejao were all key to the Cavalier victory in Houston.
K Love finished the night with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 assists. Love, who has often times been called “soft”, took on the challange of playing against Dwight Howard for much of the night and dominated the matchup. Howard who makes baskets at a rate of 61%, was held to just 44% for the evening. Sometimes Love’s presence can only be felt on the glass and on the offensive end of the floor, Friday night he was a presence everywhere.
Matthew Dellavedova only scored 3 points on 1/6 shooting, but Delly put in effort in all other facets of the game. The Aussie finished the night with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a +/- of +10.
The Wild Thing finally got some minutes!
After six straight DNPs, Coach David Blatt went to Varejao for 7 minutes in the first half. Although his time on the court was short, Anderson energized the entire Cavalier team. The Wild Thing finished with a PLUS FIFTEEN in +/- in just 7 minutes on the floor. That means that the Cavs were able to outscore the Rockets by 15 points in that short span of 7 minutes. It felt good to see Andy back out there doing his (wild) thing!
Cleveland finished off the road trip with an extremely successful record of 5-1, and but for one bad quarter in San Antonio they would have been undefeated in that entire 12-day stretch.
The Wine & Gold now have a couple of days off before they take on the 37-3 Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arean Monday night.