Kyrie Irving led a personal run against the Phoenix Suns in a deciding stretch in the second quarter, establishing a lead for the Cavaliers that would not be relinquished in a 101-90 win in Phoenix Thursday night. The road win spoiled the return to the NBA of Michael Redd, who scored 12 points in 19 minutes for the Suns in the loss.
The Suns had a 40-32 lead midway through the second quarter by besting the Cavaliers second team with their own bench squad. But then Phoenix's second-liners began to take some questionable shots and when Cleveland began to return the games to their starters, things began to change.
Between the seven and four minute marks, Cavs rookie Irving took matters, and scoring, into his own hands, leading a personal 12-0 run that put his team up six, 46-40. Overall, Irving was 5-6 from the field in that stretch, aiding his 11-17 night overall, ending with 28 points. Irving drove the cup as well as making a pair of three-pointers there in the second quarter, and by the time Cleveland was done with the Suns, the Cavs wrapped up a 24-8 run to end the first half and give them a lead (+8) that they would not give up the rest of the game.
As for Redd, who is back after only playing 28 games the last two seasons due to a twice-torn ACL and MCL in his left knee, it was the same old shooter, dropping his shot down below his waist before quickly bringing his hands up and flipping the ball over his head for the shot. Redd made three of seven 3-point shots, including a double clutch job late in the third quarter to help account for those 12 points on the night.
Antawn Jamison averages over 20 points per game in his career against the Suns, and brought that average up a bit with a steady/solid 23 points for the night. Anderson Varejao owned the glass for the Cavs, getting seven offensive rebounds and 17 overall.
Steve Nash shot 6-10 for 16 points, including his 16,000th point all time, and added 15 assists but could do nothing to stop Irving from scoring on the defensive end. Nash was Irving's cover for nine of Irving's 11 field goals, partially explaining his -10 for the night despite Nash's offensive offerings as he chased the Cleveland rookie from a couple of steps behind all night.
PHXgp at the Bright Side of the Sun laments the evenings events:
The Cavs looked young and fast tonight, and the Phoenix Suns looked simultaneously like an aging squad and a young, inexperienced one.
The Suns lost the rebounding battle 39-47 and gave up 17 rebounds to Anderson Varejao, the other floppy-haired guy, and allowed the Cavs to shoot over 52% from three. It's quite difficult to win when you give those two categories away.