BROOKLYN, N.Y.: Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving were both named to the All-Star ballot early on Tuesday. They showed why in a losing performance Tuesday night.
Varejao had a career-high 35 points and 18 rebounds and Irving had a career-high 34 points in the Cavaliers’ 114-101 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Varejao and Irving were sensational, while the rest of their teammates struggled.
Before the Cavaliers played the finale of this six city, 6,000 mile excursion, coach Byron Scott huddled with his coaches and told them not to even mention going home.
The fear was with a team this young, the first mention of “don’t even think about going home” meant that’s exactly what the players would’ve done. Turns out, it didn’t really matter.
The Cavaliers – except Varejao and Irving – played like a team ready to get off the road. The final stop on this trip looked eerily similar to the first five. The starters kept the Cavs in the game and the bench let it get away. The Cavaliers dug too big of a hole in the second quarter and spent the rest of the night unsuccessfully trying to escape.
The Cavs stumble home with one victory on the six-game trip. They were competitive in most of them, but the final two games were not close.
The Cavaliers collapsed Tuesday when they were forced to go to their bench in the second quarter. They held a 30-29 lead after the first quarter, but managed just 12 points in the second as the Nets carried a healthy 64-42 lead into the half.
The Cavs’ bench managed just six points on the night.
Daniel Gibson, Donald Sloan, Samardo Samuels, Jon Leuer and Omri Casspi opened the second quarter, but the Cavs didn’t score a point for more than 4 ½ minutes with them on the floor.
That one-point lead became a 10-point deficit before Scott got the bulk of his starters back in the game. The Cavs’ first point of the quarter came on a layup from Varejao, who had a sensational first quarter to give the Cavs the slim lead.
Varejao had 17 points, the most he’s ever scored in a quarter according to STATS, and seven rebounds. But the Cavs’ reserves could do little to slow the Nets.
By the time the starters returned, they weren’t much better. The Cavs had four missed shots and a turnover before Irving, Varejao, Dion Waiters and Alonzo Gee returned in the second quarter. The deficit was 10 when all the starters returned, but the Cavs were still held to just one field goal over a three-minute stretch late in the half. The Nets used that drought to push a 12-point lead out to 20. The Nets shot 62 percent in the second quarter and outrebounded the Cavs 16-7.
Scott ignored his bench in the third quarter and played all five starters the entire way. The Cavs were able to slice the deficit down to 10 entering the fourth, but couldn’t get any closer.
After a basket by Waiters with 7:43 left cut the deficit to 91-80, Joe Johnson made 3-pointers on consecutive Nets possessions to extend the lead to 99-82, effectively ending any chance at a comeback.
Deron Williams had 26 points for the Nets and Johnson had 25, including 16 in the fourth quarter.