CLEVELAND: Eleven thoughts from a 97-93 Cavs victory that ends their five-game losing streak…
1. Not to be melodramatic, but if this Andrew Bynum experiment works, tonight will be viewed as the turning point. It was a milestone night for Bynum, who set season highs with 30 minutes, 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
2. I wrote something similar to that on Twitter and people misunderstood it as me proclaiming this the turning point for the Cavs’ season. Hardly. This team again made it far too difficult on themselves by blowing a 14-point lead within about five minutes in the fourth quarter. Victories for this team never come easy and one win Saturday isn’t about to change that. It was a good sign to be able to fight back after squandering the lead and still finding a way to win. That’s as far as I’ll go. But it could be a turning point for Bynum.
3. Brown said he wasn’t given a minutes restriction for Bynum prior to the game. I believe that’s the first time that has happened. So Brown played him as much as he needed to win the game, which wound up being 30 minutes one night after he played 15 against the Celtics. “It felt good,” Bynum said. “I’m not going to lie.”
4. There is still likely to be a minutes restriction on Bynum going forward, this isn’t the bubble wrap coming off completely. But he only played 15 minutes the night before, so there was a little more left in the tank for the Bulls.
5. Bynum mentioned a slight adjustment the Cavs made to try and feed him the ball more consistently in the post. Rather than trying to throw everything over the top, which too often ended with the guards throwing the ball out of bounds (I’m not sure how you overthrow a 7-foot giant with his arms extended either), Bynum wants to post up a little lower so if they front him, he can push off and get a clean look.
6. “Too much effort and emphasis was being put on trying to make the perfect pass and going over the top,” Bynum said. “Just being a little smarter, I think we’ll be able to get the ball in.”
7. With a little help from a Twitter follower (@demeatloaf), Bynum is the fourth Cavs player since 1985-86 to have at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and shoot at least .571. The last to do it was Zydrunas Ilgauskas on Feb. 11, 2005. Shawn Kemp did it twice and Larry Nance did it six times.
8. Dion Waiters had his third consecutive 20-point game. Whether he likes it or not, this bench role seems to fit him well. He did have four more turnovers to give him 10 in the last two nights, but the Cavs need his scoring, particularly when it’s efficient (8 of 10).
9. Waiters was destroyed defensively by Luol Deng. The Cavs tried playing him at small forward in the three-guard lineup, but he was giving away about five inches to Deng. The Bulls went right to Deng every time Waiters covered him and typically had success, forcing Brown to bring in Alonzo Gee and call him the unsung hero of the game for his defensive effort on Deng.
10. Kyrie Irving had 19 points, six assists and zero turnovers. That’s quite a bit better than the last time the Cavs played the Bulls, which included Irving getting his face chewed off by Brown amid a terrible performance that really kind of sent the Cavs skidding on their way. But Irving shot just 7 of 21 and was 1 of 5 on 3-pointers. Irving’s shooting percentage is down to 40..1 percent. Waiters is shooting better than Irving from the floor and 3-point line.
11. Tristan Thompson has struggled terribly for the better part of the last two weeks, but he broke out of that with 14 points and 14 rebounds against the Bulls. He was averaging 5 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last five games.