WASHINGTON: He was fired just five games into last season by the Los Angeles Lakers, but Mike Brown was quick to admit this has been the craziest, most disjointed start to any season he has ever coached.
The twists and turns continued during Saturday’s wild 103-96 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards, when Kyrie Irving matched his career high with 41 points and the Cavs were essentially drawing up plays in the dirt.
Andrew Bynum returned to the starting lineup despite just one practice with the starters, Earl Clark slid back to his more natural power forward spot without any practice and undrafted rookie Matthew Dellavedova was thrown into crucial minutes and shined in his coach’s eyes.
“Not one unit out there knew anything we were doing. I didn’t know what we were doing,” Brown said. “We kind of made it up on the fly. It was tough at first. Kyrie just stayed with it. All our guys stayed with it.”
Irving, who began the night shooting just 38 percent, made 14-of-28 shots (including 4-of-7 on 3-pointers) and delivered the first seven points of the overtime session for the Cavs.
With the game tied at 90, Irving had a chance to win it at the buzzer in regulation, but Nene poked the ball away from him on his drive to the basket and the Wizards recovered with one second left.
The game went to overtime when Nene’s 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer never made it to the rim.
Brown raved about Irving’s leadership throughout the night.
“Kyrie was terrific in the huddles,” Brown said. “He showed some true leadership throughout the course of the game, especially when we were down 15 in the first half. If we had a microphone on in the huddles, everybody would be able to appreciate the way he kept everybody into it mentally.”
It was Irving’s second game in a protective mask after breaking his nose during Wednesday’s loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also scored 41 points last season while wearing a black mask in a loss at the New York Knicks.
Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Jarrett Jack had 13 points off the bench. The Cavs recovered from another miserable start to the game offensively. They made just four baskets in the first quarter and shot just 27 percent and fell behind 38-23 in the second quarter before fighting back.
C.J. Miles again started at shooting guard in place of Dion Waiters, who was not with the team.
Much of Saturday focused around a players-only meeting the Cavs held after Wednesday’s loss to the Timberwolves, when a few heated exchanges took place among players.
The meeting was first reported by ESPN.com.
“Things happen. We’re able to talk amongst one another. You can have a disagreement. That’s very much OK,” Jack said. “It’s not against the law. But the whole thing about it is, if you’re going to have a talk or any conversation, a resolution should be the reason for having it in the first place. That was the whole reason why we called the meeting, had the discussions. I like the place that we’re in right now.”
There has been rampant speculation over Waiters’ illness, which happens to coincide with Wednesday’s postgame meeting. But Brown said Waiters is legitimately sick and has seen a doctor twice because of it.
“Somebody says they’re sick, they go to the doctor, the doctor takes care of it and we move on,” Brown said.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.