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Kyrie Irving selected to All-Star Game

Jan 29, 2015 -- 7:50pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – Kyrie Irving is headed back to the NBA All-Star game.

The league announced Thursday night that the Cleveland Cavaliers' 22-year old point guard was selected as a reserve, as voted on by the Eastern Conference coaches.

Irving is averaging 22.1 points, five assists and three rebounds in 38 minutes through 44 games played this season.

The now three-time consecutive All-Star selection is coming off of a week where he scored 93 points over the course of two games – although the official vote ballots were submitted Tuesday night, before he scored 38 against the Detroit Pistons, followed by a 55-point performance against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Last year, Irving was an All-Star starter – earning game MVP honors by leading the Eastern Conference to a victory, scoring 31 points to go along with 14 assists and five rebounds.

Per the Cavaliers, Irving is the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to be selected three times (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Isiah Thomas) and was the second youngest player to win the game MVP award (James).

Irving accompanies 11-time All-Star teammate LeBron James to the game at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 15. James, an All-Star starter, finished second in the leagues’ fan vote – behind Western Conference shooting guard Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

The other Eastern Conference All-Stars are:

Starters

Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)

Reserves

Jeff Teague (Atlanta Hawks)
Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
Chris Bosh (Miami Heat)
Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks)
Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)

James chimed in to congratulate his teammate and friend, Irving.
 

 

 

Cavs win, Kyrie scores 55

Jan 28, 2015 -- 11:51pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – LeBron James “politely declined” to talk to the media following the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers – extending their current winning streak to eight games, tying a season-high.

James, who sat out of the game with a right wrist sprain, reasoned that “It’s Kyrie’s night,” and looked on as a scrum of cameras and recorders congregated around the locker of a 22-year old budding superstar.

Irving scored a career-high 55 points in the win – surpassing career numbers in field goals attempted (36), three-point shots attempted (19), three-point field goals made (11) and field goals made (17). He also added five assists, four rebounds and two steals to cap off one memorable night.

His 55 points are also the league high for a game this season, moving past the 52 scored by Mo Williams and Klay Thompson.

“It really means a lot to me,” Irving said of the performance. “For me, it is just about the intensity of the game and being out there with my gracious teammates and them doing a great job of getting me open and setting great screens.

“(I am) just happy that we got the win, that’s the only thing that really matters and we continue our streak.”

Intense the game was, as Cleveland watched a 14-point first half lead transform into a three-point deficit with under two-minutes to play.

Irving answered with a three-point shot to tie.

Following pairs of free throws from both the Cavs Timofey Mozgov and Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge – with the game knotted at 94 with 27 seconds remaining, head coach David Blatt called timeout to draw up a potential go-ahead play.

“It was a call we made as a team,” Irving said of the final play being drawn up. “Every call that we make is combined, and obviously our coaching staff was thinking one thing and I was thinking another and we just met in the middle.”

The outcome: Irving drilling a 25-foot three-point jump shot to put the Cavs ahead for good.

“It was just for (Irving) to get an open look,” Blatt said of the final shot. “To create a play and get a look. There wasn’t a definitive direct on whether to shoot a three, or a two. I would have been equally as happy had he taken it to the rim and gotten fouled. But, he took what the defense gave him and he made a great great shot.”

An emotional Irving wasn’t able to fully soak in the moment quite yet, with time still left on the clock, Cleveland had to defend and rebound to seal the victory – which they did and Irving hit two more free-throws with little to no ticks left.

“I was really emotional at that point, but the thing I was worried about was getting a stop, because there is a great team in that other locker room, we have all the respect for them and (Damian Lillard) has hit a lot of pressure shots like that.

“Was just worried about the next play, getting the stop, and coming off with the win.”

Defensively, Irving held Lillard to just 4-of-19 shooting and a quiet 14 points.

The moment was about Irving, the headlines are about his individual performance, but truth be told, Cleveland needed all 55 of his points to clinch the victory. All of Irving’s shots – following his 0-of-7 start – mattered in such a close, up and down second half. The young phenom delivered –when his team needed him most –which in his mind, is all that really matters.

“You guys can continue to ask me what it feels like but the really only thing that matters to me is that we got the win,” he said. “Everybody competed and this is definitely a game that we can look back on and look back on our defense. We held them to 94 points and they score 103 a game. We just stuck to our principles and we were disciplined on both ends of the floor.

“We executed when we needed to and we got the win.”
 

Quote of the Night

As Irving stepped to the free-throw line, leading by three with 2.1 seconds left, the crowd harmoniously chanted:

“M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P.”
 

Tweet of the Night

LeBron James looked to have the grin of a proud big brother in the locker room after the game. Looking on as Irving conducted his postgame interview with humble graciousness, James took to Twitter to talk about the performance.

 

The All-Star reserve selections will be announced tomorrow night – but James things Irving’s ticket to New York City is a good as punched. 

 

 

Photo of the Night

Not to be lost in the mix, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge also had a stellar night, scoring 38 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking two shots.

Below are the shot charts for Aldridge (left) and Irving (right).
 

Irving's final line from the floor was 17-of-36, 11-of-19 from three-point range and 10-of-10 from the free throw line. 

  

Video of the Night

Ice. In. His. Veins. 

 

 

LeBron OUT with sprained wrist

Jan 28, 2015 -- 7:16pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – LeBron James missed the Cleveland Cavaliers win against the Portland Trail Blazers and is listed as doubtful for Friday’s game against the visiting Sacramento Kings with a right wrist sprain, the team announced.

James took a hard fall in the final minutes of the third quarter in the Cavs win over Detroit on Tuesday night but was able to return to the game and score 10 points in the final period.

He was, however, listed as active for the game against the Blazers and did dress in full uniform, although no one expected him to check in. 

The official statement from the Cavaliers was released right before tip-off:

“Cavaliers forward LeBron James received a follow-up exam and MRI at Cleveland Clinic today related to his sore right wrist following last night’s game in Detroit. The exam and MRI revealed a right wrist sprain. James is OUT for tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Quicken Loans Arena. He is also currently listed as DOUBTFUL for Friday’s game against Sacramento at The Q. James will receive continued treatment and evaluation and his status will be updated as appropriate.”

Head coach David Blatt commented on his diagnosis after the game. 

“He came in sore and we decided that we wanted to get him an X-Ray and an MRI, we did that, that took time, and then when he came to the training room we wanted doctors and specialists to see him –which they did. All that brought us up to basically game time. The decision was made to hold him out and for us to see going forward how much time he’ll have to sit. As far as I know, the best of my knowledge, there is no serious damage. But we are going to have to let him heal. If it takes 48 hours great, and if it takes longer than that, that’s what it’s going to be. We are certainly not looking at any long-term thing.”

James was not available for post-game comments, but was seen getting his wrist taped up by a team trainer before leaving the locker room. The wrist was not taped during the game while he sat on the bench with his teammates -- but he certainly favored it, only high-fiving with his left. 

This season the Cavs are 25-12 when James suits up, and now just 2-8 when he is out.

Shawn Marion, averaging 5.6 points and one assist and four rebounds per game, started in his place but didn't get any playing time in the second half. 

 

 

Cavs top Thunder, 108-98

Jan 25, 2015 -- 8:17pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – Six in a row.

LeBron James drove into the heart of the defense and dished the ball to a wide-open Kevin Love standing in the corner. Crisp pass. Clean catch. Love drained his fifth three-point shot of the night – and calmed the tides in the final minutes as the Cavs secured what finished to be a 108-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder -- extending their second longest winnning streak of the season. 

“I think this just shows that we can play with the best teams,” Love said of the victory. “Hopefully (we are) starting to put this thing together. We know it’s a good time to be doing so.”

Love finished the game going 5-of-7 from beyond the arc with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Heading into the fourth quarter, leading by five, James took matters into his own hands, posting an individual 8-0 run to extend the lead and ultimately put Cleveland in a position to clinch the game.

“I sat the last three-and-a-half minutes of the third (quarter) and when I came in we had a little bit of a lead,” James said. “I wanted to bump it up and be aggressive and I was able to go on an 8-0 run.”

James was held scoreless in the third quarter, but posted 12 of his 34 points in the final period to go accompany five assists and seven rebounds.

Oklahoma City ranked first in the league in rebounding coming into the game, but Cleveland was able to edge the Thunder in that category, 48-42. Tristan Thompson led the way with season-high 16 boards – filling a void left by Timofey Mozgov who found himself in foul trouble early in the third quarter.

“He’s just a great guy to have on your team,” head coach David Blatt said of Thompson’s gritty performance. “He doesn’t care if he starts or doesn’t start, he just wants to help the team win, and that’s what he does.

“Every time he steps out on the floor he gives you his best effort.”

Point guard Kyrie Irving once again found himself guarding one of the best players in the game, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, and once again answering the call – scoring 21 points and posting 3:1 assist to turnover ratio while limiting Westbrook to 22 points on 7-of-26 shooting.

The Cavs in general appeared to be in an offensive rhythm, looking to make the extra pass that led to easier layups in down low – 28 points in the paint – and open looks from deep, hitting 16-of-36 from long range.

“The proof is out there when we play,” Irving said of their willingness to unselfishly move the ball. “A lot more assists and a lot more trust out there and guys making big time plays. We are making the right play with one another. Not that we weren’t doing that before, but it is consistent out there and I think that is the biggest word out there for our team right now, having consistency on both ends of the floor.

“It is translating to wins.”
 

Quote of the Night

“I saw two brilliant players really competing and two guys that play for their team as well. As a coach and as a basketball aficionado, that is what you want to see. You want to see great players with great talent that play the game right. I thought we saw that from both Durant (32 points, six rebounds, nine assists) and LeBron.”

-Blatt on watching the matchup of two superstar MVP players – James and Durant. 
 

Tweet of the Night

Following a three-point shot over the outstretched arm of former teammate Dion Waiters, that capped the 8-0 run to put the Cavs ahead by 11 in the fourth quarter, ESPN had this to say about James.
 

The Cavs defense has been improving as well during their six-game winning streak, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst took note of their efforts on that end of the floor: 

 

Photo of the Night

Photo/Getty

Waiters said pregame that he was “coming fully loaded,” for his return to Cleveland – but unfortunately for him, shot blanks most of the night – shooting 5-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-7 from distance for 14 points in 33 minutes.

He missed the only two three-point shots he took in the fourth quarter, both of which could have turned momentum in the Thunders’ direction.
  

Video of the Night

Kevin Durant isn't a huge fan of 'toss-up' questions, and comments on Waiters impact on Oklahoma City:  

 

 

Waiters: Coming fully loaded

Jan 25, 2015 -- 3:00pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – Back in Cleveland, but this time Dion Waiters is no longer a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Averaging 11.3 points in 28 minutes per game since being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in early January, Waiters chatted with the media pregame– this time from the visiting locker room.

“It should be fun, very fun exciting,” he said about an hour before the game tipped off. “Just to match up with those guys, guys you’ve been playing with your whole career just about. It should be fun, man.

“They know I am coming though, they should know I’m coming. Coming fully loaded too.”

Since acquiring Waiters, the Thunder are 5-3 and coming off of a 103-93 loss to the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks.

“It should be fun, man,” He reiterated. “That’s what it is all about, just having fun. Playing against those guys. Talking a little bit. Getting the win, that’s the most important part, coming out and getting a victory. That will mean more than anything to me.”

Reigning league MVP Kevin Durant also chimed in pregame on Waiters’ impact.

“He has helped us out a lot,” Durant said. “He can create his own shot. He can create for others. It is great to have him.

“He fits in well, he’s a guy off the bench that can score with the best of them. He just gives us another punch.”

Jason Gibbs contributed to this report.
 

 

 

Cavs sting Hornets, 129-90

Jan 24, 2015 -- 12:16am

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – LeBron James sat on the bench smiling. 

Matthew Dellavedova, Mike Miller, Iman Shumpert, Shawn Marion and Tristan Thompson – those are the five Cleveland Cavaliers who started the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets.

Brendan Haywood checked in at the 11:02 mark for Thompson.

The reason?

Cleveland peaked their commanding lead at 49 points in a 129-90 pummeling of the Hornets to extend their winning streak to five games, continuing to build on their second longest such streak of the season.

Going into the locker room at halftime, Cleveland held a franchise best 35 point lead, holding Charlotte to 40 first half points on 40 percent shooting from the floor, but just 12 percent from three-point range and forced seven turnovers.

The Cavs turned those turnovers into 13 points on a fury of alley-oop dunks and open look threes to blow the game open and extend the lead to as many as 39 before the break. 

“We are understanding that it is fun to play defense,” James said about his team that finished with 16 points off of the Hornets 11 total turnovers. “A lot of people don’t get excited about it, but it is fun to play defense, to get stops and then be able to play free flowing offensively.

“We came out with a defensive mindset.”

Offensively the Cavs were effective as well, shooting 52 percent as a team from the field, and knocking down 15 three-point attempts – the 129 points scored is a season high.

James led the way with 25 points and nine assists in just 27 minutes. J.R Smith added 21, Kyrie Irving 18 and Timofey Mozgov recorded his third straight double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.

“That Shawn Marion alley-oop took me back about five years,” head coach David Blatt joked about the number of up-tempo plays the Cavs were able to string together.

All 13 players on the roster received playing time, and scored in the game.

“An (offensive) performance like tonight is not always going to be there,” James added. “So we always have to fall back on our defense. There are going to be games where you don’t make shots, and one thing you have to be able to rely on is how well you defend and give yourself a chance to win.

“It’s a good win, and that’s the most important thing.”

Blatt was pleased with his teams’ ability to remain hungry throughout the game, and will look to build on the momentum that surfaced with such a lop sided win.

“Our message is going to be to continue to be aggressive at both ends of the court as we were tonight, and to be good with the basketball,” he said. “If you do those things, with the kind of team that we have, good things will happen. Take care of the ball, play with pace, be real aggressive on defense and no secrets.

“The talent that we have is evident.”

The offensive talent was never in question, the concern for this Cavs team all season has been their ability to defend and team chemistry. Evidently, either addition by subtraction, or just bringing in the proper skill sets – the Cavs appear to be fully in sync, on both ends of the floor.

“It’s a commitment to being in the right place at the right time and covering for one another,” James continued on the importance of team defense. “If one guy breaks down, and having that trust, I think the trust factor, more than anything defensively, just knowing that if you get beat you are going to have somebody to protect you and the guy that protects the guy that got beat, someone is going to protect him as well, that’s where the defense comes into play, guys are having that trust factor.”

All the hard work allowed James, Love, Irving and Mozgov to sit the entire fourth quarter, ensuring they will all be well rested for their next big opponent, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
 

Quote of the Night

” You can’t stop the train in the middle of the tracks when it is rolling at the pace it was tonight”

  - David Blatt on concerns about their momentum and progress moving forward
 

Tweet of the Night

Tweet of the night – Mark Price returned to Cleveland and sat on the opposing bench as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Hornets. For 48 minutes, he had the same look he used to force upon other coaches when he was playing for the Cavaliers – the look of ‘how are we going to stop the three-point shot.’ Price, who was the franchise leader in three-point shooting until LeBron James surpassed him earlier this season, could only watch as Cleveland shot 15-of-28 from distance, seven coming from J.R. Smith. 

 

 

Photo of the Night

The final piece of the Cavs acquisition puzzle, Iman Shumpert, finally took the floor tonight after missing the last five weeks – three while still a member of the Knicks – with a dislocated shoulder. Blatt said post game that Shumpert is facing a “minute-restriction” and cannot exceed 10 minutes per game as of yet, but that limit will start to grow as rehabilitation progresses.

Playing all 10 of his allotted minutes, Shumpert was 2-of-2 from three-point range, shot 100 percent from the floor and finished the game with eight points. During an on-the-court post-game interview, he thanked the Cleveland fans for the “warm welcome.”


 

Photo/Getty 

Video of the Night

Deemed a selfish player throughout the first 11-years of his career, J.R. Smith has been in the giving mood as of late, and by all accounts buying into the offense, proving that he can and will be a vital part of the Cavs push back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Some call it Showtime, others Lob City, either way, Cleveland had some fun on the court during their blowout victory:
 

 

 

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