Mike Brown was unceremoniously discharged by the Los Angeles Lakers five games into the 2012-13 season. He then returned to the Staples Center to face a depleted version of his former team coming off a 44-point loss to the Sacramento Kings.
Mike Brown is not saying I told you guys I was coming back for revenge last night in this picture above but it would be funny if he was
During the second quarter of his first game back in LA, these Lakers–Jodie Meeks and Nick Young's Lakers–combined to total 40 points. What appeared to be an embarrassing low threatened to become even worse for Brown and his Cavaliers. But while I'm not sure what exactly happened between the conclusion of the second quarter and start of the third, it's fair to assume that Coach Brown may have delivered the best halftime speech of his NBA career.
Led by Luol Deng, the Cavaliers used an 11-2 run to open the third. They'd go on to secure a road win they desperately needed from there while saving face and moving to 2-1 on the road trip heading into Portland on Wednesday.
And they can thank their two oldest veterans for helping Brown exact some measure of revenge on his former team.
Anderson Varejao and Luol Deng: 45 points, 23 rebounds, 10 assists
Maybe the majority of Cleveland's roster is still too young to understand that you need to come out and beat a 14-24 team like Los Angeles after you lay an egg like you just did against the Kings. Maybe they also don't realize the heightened importance of doing as much when you've only won three of your 19 road games prior to a matchup with a team who fired your coach five games into the season once.
Luol Deng and Anderson Varejao, however, appeared to understand as much and willed these Cavs to the win. They also demonstrated what actual, on-court, veteran leadership is supposed to look like in the NBA along the way.
For most of the night, Varejao flirted with the possibility of a triple-double. He'd finish with 18 points, 18 rebounds and six assists while potentially dedicating his performance to the coach who helped him establish a decade-long career in the NBA.
Deng, meanwhile, connected on all five of his three-point field goal attempts to finish with a team high 27. One point behind Swaggy P who paced the Lakers with 28 and one more than Meeks who finished with a season-high 26.
Dellavedova: 11 points, 3-of-5 shooting from three, unquantifiable energy and toughness
Matthew Dellavedova knocked down three, three-point field goals during a road game the Cavaliers won by two points. He used six shots to score 11 points and less than 20 minutes to put his stamp of consistent effort all over the victory. Delly's latest display of marksmanship helped him improve his three-point field-goal percentage to 43.6 percent on the year. Good for first among all qualified rookies in the NBA. He also ranks 13th among all rookies at 16.6 minutes per night as well heading into Wednesday's matchup with the Trail Blazers.
Mike Brown didn't sound like he cared, but deep down he probably did
When asked about beating the team who fired him after only five games, Brown's response was as follows: “I don’t care where I am. I really want wins. And whether we’re in Sacramento, or we’re in Dallas or San Antonio, I want to win, and if we win I can take some satisfaction from it, but there’s a lot of learning we can do from this game too.”
All business, respect. Next up Rip City.