It took only two questions before someone asked Cavaliers coach Mike Brown about his team's big game on Friday at Atlanta. The dust had barely settled after Kyrie Irving's seamless return in the Cavs' 119-98 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night when the attention turned to the next game. It was only natural. After the Cavs victory, combined with New York's 110-81 victory over Brooklyn and Chicago's 105-92 victory over Atlanta, the Knicks inched ahead of the Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the Cavs two games behind. Asked about the big game against the Hawks, Brown said, "They're all big. Let's say we go and beat Atlanta and then we lose our next five. Every game we play for us because of the position we put ourselves in is a big game. Tonight was a big game for us. We have to come and try to play the right way and see if we can get a win.'' It was win-win on Wednesday. Irving had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes after missing eight games with a strained left biceps. "I felt good,'' Irving said. "I was really excited to be back out there with my teammates. We just had a great rhythm.'' Five Cavs scored in double figures, led by Dion Waiters with 28, Spencer Hawes with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Tristan Thompson with 20 points and 11 rebounds in his 200th straight game. Luol Deng left the game in the third quarter with a sore lower back, though he said after the game he thought he'd be fine and actually could have returned. The victory was the second straight and fifth in six games for the Cavs, who improved to 31-45 and swept all four games against the Magic this season. Rookie Victor Oladipo had 16 points for Orlando, 21-54. Before the game, fans were worried that Irving's return would upset the Cavs on-court chemistry or flow. But those fears were dispelled in a hurry when Cleveland led by 13 points in the first quarter and 23 in the second en route to a 70-47 lead at the half. It was the most points by the Cavs in any half this season and the most points by an Orlando opponent in any half this season.
Kyrie Irving scores 17 points in return as Cavaliers clobber Magic, 119-98
Cleveland Plain Dealer | Apr 3