April 20, 2014

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Kyrie Irving injures finger in Cavaliers’ loss to Mavericks

CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving can’t win a game with one hand, and the Cavaliers apparently can’t win without a big hand from their young point guard.

Irving bruised his left index finger in the third quarter and failed to register an assist for the first time in his two-year career Saturday as the Cavs fell 103-95 to the Dallas Mavericks in front of 18,633 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Irving, who had a game-high 26 points but also didn’t have a rebound in 34 minutes, suffered the injury midway through the third period when he banged his finger on the foot of Mavs point guard Darren Collison.

“I’m getting through it,” he said. “It’s really bruised right now. It hurts a lot, but I’m going to get through it.”

Irving, who plans to play tonight in Philadelphia, finished 11-for-21 from the field and got the Cavs (2-7) back in position to win the game, but he was also in the middle of a number of plays that resulted in them dropping their fifth straight.

After Dallas (6-5) went on a 9-0 run early in the fourth period to take an 87-80 lead, Irving had seven points in a quick 9-2 Cleveland spurt that tied the game.

The Mavs, however, came right back with another 9-0 run, during which Irving committed a turnover and missed a 3-pointer.

“I’m not feeling comfortable with my left hand right now,” he said. “I only had one hand, so I was trying to force shots.”

Irving hit a 3-pointer with 1:34 left to cut the lead to 98-95, but 6-foot-2 Daniel Gibson ended up on 7-foot, 265-pound Chris Kaman in the post and had to commit a foul.

After Kaman split a pair of free throws with 1:16 left, Dahntay Jones made the biggest play of the game when he blocked an Irving drive. That led to a transition layup for O.J. Mayo and marked the beginning of the end for the Cavs.

“We had opportunities,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “We just didn’t take advantage.”

Though the Cavs forced 22 turnovers that led to 30 points, Scott once again blamed his team’s defense, which allowed the Mavs to shoot .514 from the field (38-for-74) and 10-for-23 from 3-point range (10-for-23). Cleveland has not held an opponent to less than 100 points since the season opener.

“The biggest thing is what we are doing on the defensive end is not carrying over from practice to the game,” Scott said. “I thought for three quarters it was OK, but in the fourth quarter they shot 59 percent.”

On this night, the offense was just as bad, as Cleveland shot .375 from the field.

The worst offender was Anderson Varejao, who had four points on 2-for-11 shooting and just seven boards in 39 unusually uneventful minutes.

Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters had 16 points, but went just 4-for-16 from the floor and is now 7-for-32 over his last two games.

Alonzo Gee added 15 points on 6-for-16 shooting and seven rebounds, Tristan Thompson had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Gibson had 16 points off the bench, but the Cavs had just 43 points in the second half and their bench was outscored 45-24 on the night.

“The problem isn’t scoring,” Scot maintained. “We’re averaging 97, 98 points, so that isn’t a problem. The problem is at the defensive end.”

Dallas, which played without former league MVP Dirk Nowitzki (knee), had seven players score in double figures, with Mayo leading the way with 19.

Kaman finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and six of Dallas’ 14 blocks, while Collison had 14 points and eight assists and veteran Vince Carter had 14 points and six boards off the bench.

Scott, whose team has not won since beating the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 5, saw some positives in Cleveland’s first game at The Q in 15 days, but he refused to use youth as an excuse for not finishing the job down the stretch.

“Young is a copout,” he said. “We’re still basketball players.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Mavericks 103, Cavaliers 95

DALLAS (103): Brand 0-2 0-0 0, Marion 4-7 2-2 10, Kaman 6-12 3-4 15, Collison 5-8 4-5 14, Mayo 5-9 6-6 19, Carter 5-10 1-2 14, Murphy 3-6 0-0 9, Do.Jones 5-11 0-0 10, James 2-5 0-0 4, Crowder 0-1 0-0 0, Wright 2-2 1-1 5, Da.Jones 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 38-74 17-20 103.
CLEVELAND (95): Gee 6-16 3-5 15, Thompson 5-12 0-0 10, Varejao 2-11 0-0 4, Irving 11-21 2-3 26, Waiters 4-16 7-8 16, Gibson 5-11 2-2 16, Zeller 1-4 1-2 3, Pargo 0-1 0-0 0, Casspi 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 36-96 15-20 95.
Dallas            24    27    24    28    —    103
Cleveland    24    28    21    22     —     95
3-Point Goals—Dallas 10-23 (Mayo 3-5, Carter 3-6, Murphy 3-6, Da.Jones 1-1, Collison 0-1, Marion 0-1, Crowder 0-1, Do.Jones 0-2), Cleveland 8-25 (Gibson 4-8, Irving 2-7, Casspi 1-2, Waiters 1-4, Pargo 0-1, Gee 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Dallas 50 (Marion 10), Cleveland 54 (Thompson 12). Assists—Dallas 26 (Collison 8), Cleveland 21 (Gibson 5). Total Fouls—Dallas 19, Cleveland 15. Technicals—Kaman, Cleveland defensive three second 2. A—18,633 (20,562).