The Barclays center is finally becoming a home court advantage to the Brooklyn Nets. Nets hit 55 percent of their attempts, led by Deron Williams’ 26 points and 10 assists. Joe Johnson (25 points) and Brook Lopez (23 points) weren’t far behind.
“I don’t want to talk about the defense,” said Scott, when asked to describe the Cavaliers’ ability. “There was nothing there defensively. We’ve got to get more guys who are going to be competitive. Right now we’ve really got three — Boobie Gibson, Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao. We’ve got to get the other guys to join into the party, simple as that.”
Throughout the Cavaliers’ six-game road trip, opponents hit 52 percent of their shots, and the Nets’ luck was no different Tuesday. Varejao kept the Cavaliers in the game with a 17-point, seven-rebound first quarter, but Brooklyn pulled ahead in the second quarter thanks to a 35-12 run that included 61.9 percent shooting.
It was, in essence, when the Cavaliers began their trip home to Cleveland. Scott said he purposely didn’t mention to his young team that the Brooklyn game was the final contest of the long road trip.
“Our guys are so young, if you mention, ‘Hey, don’t start thinking about home,’ then they’ll start thinking about home,” Scott said.
Irving raised the level of his play in the third quarter when he hit 5-of-8 attempts and scored 14 of his career-high 34 points. His ball-handling brought gasps and hearty “Oooh”s” from the Brooklyn crowd each time he broke down the Nets’ defense. Among the highlights: a nifty behind-the-back pass to Varejao in traffic, and a lightning-quick spin move after a steal late in the game.
“He’s got the ball on a string, so when he’s in a pick-and-roll situation, it’s very tough for our big men to get out on him because he’s so good at splitting it,” the Nets’ Williams said. “He’s quick and he can shoot the ball so well that you can’t just back off him. He’s one of the tougher players to guard.”
Among the bright spots for the Cavaliers, in fact, is that the pick-and-roll tandem of Irving and Varejao is beginning to click with precision. Varejao and Irving accounted for 69 of the Cavaliers’ points while shooting 62.5 percent. The rest of the Cavaliers shot just 27.7 percent. The Cleveland bench scored a whopping six points.
“Playing with Kyrie, with those pick and rolls, all I did was make layups,” Varejao said of his unexpected offensive performance.
Scott, for one, is hoping that Varejao’s defensive intensity will rub off on his Cavaliers teammates more than his rare offensive outburst Tuesday. Varejao’s best advice is simply to play harder.
“Effort, rotations, a little bit of everything,” Varejao said. “But effort, I would say, is the biggest thing in defense. It’s not going to always be perfect, but if you put effort in, you’re going to make up for your mistakes on defense.
Ed Rivera Ap