Cleveland Cavaliers Get Much Needed Win Despite Shooting Woes

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Updated: January 2, 2014

Without star point guard Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers found a way to defeat the hapless Orlando Magic on Thursday night.

Down 79-70 with just over a minute to remain in the game, the Cavaliers dug deep—aided by some miscues from the Magic—and sent the game to overtime thanks to a Dion Waiters layup. With around six seconds left in the game, Waiters blew by his man to tie the game with 0.6 seconds left on the clock.

In overtime, the Cavaliers—fueled by Anderson Varejao’s big night—pulled away for an 87-81 victory, allowing the Magic to score just two points in the extra session. Varejao easily propelled the Cavaliers to victory in this one, scoring 18 points and grabbing a franchise-tying record 25 rebounds in the process. What was even more impressive is that Varejao grabbed an astounding eight offensive rebounds, the same amount that Orlando grabbed on the offensive glass as a team.

Without Irving there was a clear disconnect on who should be the team’s “go-to guy”. Waiters went 6-of-20 from the field in 39 minutes, scoring 17 points. Jarrett Jack, who started in Irving’s place, went 5-of-16 from the field for 14 points with seven assists. C.J. Miles added 14 points from his starting role, while Tristan Thompson chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

For those who actually watched this game, my apologies go out to you. The Cavaliers shot an atrocious 34.4 percent from the field, yet found a way to win. The Magic were 38.1 percent from the field, but their 55.6 percent from the free throw line opened up a major door for the Cavaliers to snatch this ugly victory from them.

One of the biggest issues in this one—something that has plagued the Cavaliers all season—was the play from the team’s small forward position. Earl Clark played just 20 minutes, going 2-of-10 from the field (0-for-5 from three-point land). Alonzo Gee played nine minutes, going 1-of-3 in the process. If you lump Anthony Bennett’s 0-for-4 performance in 11 minutes in there, that is a stellar 3-of-17 in 40 minutes of basketball from one of the most important scoring positions in a lineup.

If the Cavaliers hope to take advantage of an awful Eastern Conference this season, something needs to change at the small forward position. You absolutely cannot expect to compete—especially with Irving out—with that type of production coming from the wing. Whether it is from trading Andrew Bynum or another asset, Chris Grant needs to do something about this quickly.

The Cavaliers have Friday off before heading to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. Like the Cavaliers, the Nets have struggled to get going despite having a roster full of talent. If the team hopes to build any momentum in 2014, they need to secure a victory in Brooklyn before coming home to face the Pacers on Dion Waiters Bobblehead Night on Sunday.

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