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Cleveland Cavaliers

Final thoughts: Cavs 98, Timberwolves 87

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 7, 2012

Since I have a flight to catch in six hours, this is going to be brief.

Kyrie Irving said tonight's game wasn't about his matchup against Ricky Rubio and he's right, but I have to believe his seven turnovers were in part because he was extra motivated playing against another highly-touted rookie.

Irving forced passes he hasn't made before, he lost his dribble (and possession) when he tried going behind his back and at times he looked like he was pressing. He hasn't looked that way often and he still played relatively well, but the seven turnovers were surprising. I wouldn't expect to see that again out of him anytime soon.

I was talking to a scout before the game who was shocked the Cavs took Tristan Thompson as high as they did.

"He can't shoot," the scout said. "And he can't shoot free throws. That's a problem."

Thompson had a miserable time trying to keep up with Derrick Williams in the second quarter. Williams whipped him pretty good, but Byron Scott said he isn't worried about Thompson. He's had two lousy games back-to-back, but he's a 20-year-old kid and the Cavs knew he had some rough edges to his game. We've seen a lot of them this week.

The Cavs have played one Western Conference opponent on the road and they've already matched their win total from last season, when their only road win against the West came at Sacramento. That's a good sign, but this trip is about to get a whole lot of nasty.

The Blazers, Sunday's opponent, has the best record in the West (5-1). In fact, the next three opponents enter the weekend at .500 or better. That's a far cry from the first seven games. Only one opponent the Cavs have played, Indiana, enters Saturday .500 or better.

That's why Scott said he wants to reserve judgment until after this trip. By the end of next week, we should have a better gauge on this team's progress.

Key stat
Anderson Varejao put up a line tonight (13pts-12rebs-5asts-4stls-2blks) that no Cavs player has produced since LeBron James went 31-19-8-4-3 on Jan. 11, 2008 against Charlotte. No NBA player has done it since Utah's Paul Millsap went 15-12-6-5-2 on April 9, 2010 at New Orleans.

Turning point
The Cavs controlled this game from early in the second quarter by playing great perimeter defense, making the extra pass and getting great contributions off the bench by guys like Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions and Alonzo Gee.

Up next
The Cavs (4-3) play at Portland (5-1) at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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