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Cleveland Cavaliers

Final thoughts: Cavs 95, Celtics 90

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 22, 2013
Tristan dunk vs Celtics
Tristan Thompson dunks the ball against the Celtics in the second quarter Tuesday in Cleveland. Thompson had a season-high 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the Cavs' 95-90 victory. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND: Final thoughts from Kyrie Irving's All-Star game audition tape at Quicken Loans Arena...

* The story I just filed to the Beacon is all about Irving's All-Star chances after he dazzled with a 40-point night. But there is a bigger picture issue here that may or may not have been solved. It's far too early to say with any certainty.

* The Cavs left their West Coast road trip with Irving genuinely conflicted with when to push the tempo and aggressively look for his own shot and when to involve his teammates like all point guards should. Scott said the internal debate left him in "no man's land" during the third quarter at Utah, when he made 2 of 5 shots, but the Cavs shot 31 percent and were outscored 31-20. 

* Scott told Irving after that game to play aggressive and let the offense flow through that, because he thought the rest of the players fed off Irving's aggressiveness. Irving responded with 19 points in the first quarter tonight, 15 in the fourth. 

* The Cavs always talk about playing fast and pushing the tempo, but they rarely do it. At least not for 48 minutes. But in the fourth quarter tonight, Irving found a sixth gear. On one fast break in the fourth, Irivng put about three moves on Paul Pierce, who had no chance keeping up with him. Irving attacked the basket, getting all 15 points either at the rim or the free-throw line. 

* "That's us trying to put our foots on their neck," Scott said. "We always talk about how there's a lot of games this season where we have the lead in the fourth quarter and we walk it up, because we're trying not to lose. I thought tonight, for the first time in a while, we tried to win and pushing it and being aggressive in the fourth quarter and looking to attack is what I want our guys to do."

* It's far, far too early to say the Cavs have figured anything out after jus one victory. But this night could serve as a sort of turning point in the season, when the Cavs learned to play with confidence and Irving focused on attacking whenever he's on the floor. This victory began a stretch where 10 of the Cavs' next 12 games are at the Q. They entered with the league's worst home record at 4-12, but some time at home might help them figure some of this stuff out. 

* This could all be a mirage, and the Cavs could easily revert back to their timid, passive approach to third and fourth quarters. After all, the Celtics are a mess and have now dropped six straight. But the Cavs played with more fire tonight in the second half than they have perhaps all season.

* Having said all that, Irving's final game before the All-Star reserve votes are counted was awfully impressive. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he voted for Irving to make the team, even though he was hung up on the Cavs' meager win total.

* "It’s amazing how hard that was,” Rivers said. “A guy with 10 wins, well, 11, it’s a hard one for me. But he’s just playing so well. I think it’s going to be close. I think it will be very close for him. I don’t do that very often, I can tell you that. Maybe it was the Duke love.”

* Incidentally, the 2011 draft yielded 61 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Tristan Thompson just happened to pick a night Irving was sensational to score a season-high 21 points, grab nine rebounds and pass for five assists. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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