Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson lead Cavaliers to win over Kings

That lob pass he left high in the Quicken Loans Arena clouds for Tristan Thompson last night was the most encouraging moment so far in this Cavaliers rebuild. At least to me it was. Talent wins in the NBA, but it only truly wins big when that talent fits together. When it has a chance to grow together, understand each other, and collectively play in a way that brings out the best in everybody. I know this isn’t the Mighty Ducks, and this is the NBA, but all those points are still are still valid.  If you think that sounds cheesy, just ask the Sacramento Kings how things are working for them without all that. 

Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson, right, tries to block a shot by Sacramento Kings' Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 93-92.
Last night was the best game of Tristan Thompson’s season so far. He had scored 16 points in two games prior, and grabbed 13 rebounds one other time, but last night he did both in the same game. 15 points and 12 rebounds, but more than simply that stat line was when he did all that damage. Almost all the points he did score were critical. He shot sixty percent from the floor (6 of 10) on the night. He boarded at both ends, grabbing 5 rebounds on the defensive side and 7 second chance opportunities on the offensive glass, and he blocked three shots too. Also had a steal. He did enough for Byron Scott to let him finish that thing out alongside Kyrie Irving too, and he did even more to help his team secure an NBA win 93-92. The two best players on the court last night for the Cavaliers were the two guys they drafted in the top-4 last June. That’s progress people.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving jumps to the basket against Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins, left, in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012, in Cleveland. Irving scored a team-high 23 points in the Cavaliers' 93-92 win.
The third paragraph is probaly not an adequate place to then start talking about how clutch Kyrie Irving was last night in hitting those two free throws to put the Cavaliers up one point with four tenths of a second left either. My bad on that. It’s come to be expected from this kid arleady though. Kyrie Irving hits big shots. Kyrie Irving does not get nervous. Kyrie Irving embraces the critical moment. He seeks it out, and then he crushes it. Sure, he may have gotten lucky by getting fouled 20 feet away from the basket by Tyreke Evans, but there was no luck involved in the way he capitalized. After Kyrie Irving hit those two free throws, he’d finish last night’s game with 23 points in 38 minutes. He had 3 rebounds, that 1 spectacular assist to his high flying running mate, and he’d lead the Cavaliers to their 12th win of the season. That is why I wrote his full name five times in this one paragraph. 

Omri Casspi vs. JJ Hickson: I dropped the ball on interviewing my boy Hickson last night, but when I tried to track him down pregame he was in the training room. After he went for zero points in the game, I didn’t know what to ask him either. The zero he scored was the second time in a row he did that, and he doesn’t seem at all happy in Sactown. I don’t really blame him either. There is something systematically flawed with whatever you’re trying to do as an organization when you can’t take 4 guys picked in the top-12 (as Bill discussed here yesterday) and put out a winning product by this point. By winning, I really just mean a .500 product. But whatever, JJ got a nice ovation, and then nothing happened. Omri on the other hand had a tough night shooting (3 of 12 from the field), but he hit the glass hard in grabbing a career high 12 rebounds. As Sam Amico pointed out yesterday, the Cavaliers did get the better end of that trade for sure, and Casspi does still have both time and room to grow here as a Cavalier. Even at this point though, he is still a better fit for what this team is trying to do than JJ would be. Unfortunately for Hickson, he doesn’t fit in Sacramento either. Hopefully things get better for him. 

Isaiah Thomas Was Really Impressive: I thoroughly enjoy praising Kyrie Irving on this blog. I’m not at all afraid to admit that either. However, in saying as much, the area Kyrie needs to make his most dramatic improvement is on the defensive end of the floor. I can give him a pass for getting torched by Deron Williams, or Chris Paul, but Isaiah Thomas did whatever he wanted to do last night. During the first quarter, I thought maybe those two were friends from back in the day and were just taking turns letting each other score. In only his second career start, the 60th pick of last June’s NBA Draft almost had a triple double. He finished with 23 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds, and the dude is as tall as me if you were wondering. I was talking to him pregame, and can confirm that he is my height. I am not the 5’9″ that Thomas is listed at either. Isaiah plays in the NBA though, and I couldn’t crack the rotation on a D3 college team during my glory years. Enough about me though, back to Kyrie. Gotta get those Wojo Duke style floor slaps going buddy, and dig in a little bit more over there next time out.

Next Time Out For The Cavs: That would be the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, and a two game winning streak is very possible here. However, the Pistons are playing pretty good lately. They’ve actually won their last 3 straight, and 7 of their last 10. Detroit just beat Boston by 15 last night, and Greg Monroe double-double’d his way again to 17 and 10. He’s becoming quite a load lately, and he’s probably going to destroy Semih Erden or Ryan Hollins. The Cavaliers will have to counter Monroe’s strength and athleticism by matching up with Samardo Samuels on Tuesday as well as Tristan Thompson #IMO.  Later today I’m publishing an interview I did with Norris Cole about Gary Waters and Cleveland State when he was in town if anybody out there takes note of me offering a heads up on that sort of thing.

And remember, you can watch the rest of Tristan and Kyrie’s rookie season with NBA League Pass on DIRECT TV

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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