CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers don’t have their ducks in a row, but they sure are quacking.
After losing 96-95 Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena to a Miami Heat team that sat LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier, the Cavs somehow found a way to create more news after their last home game of the season.
Kyrie Irving, as always, was the star of this postgame show, which also featured a Byron Scott subplot.
The game ended when Irving was stripped by Cleveland State product Norris Cole, who somehow was credited with the block of an 18-footer and a rebound on the official stat sheet.
More photos below.
Irving then ran off the court without taking part in a postgame ceremony where Cleveland players gave away their shoes and jerseys on Fan Appreciation Night. A team spokesman and Irving both attributed the point guard’s failure to participate on wanting to seek medical attention.
But when the team spokesman announced that Irving had a sprained right heel while media members were waiting for the 21-year-old to conduct his postgame interview, the second-year pro, who also heard the news at that time, became agitated.
“That’s what I have?” he said. “Oh. When was somebody going to tell me that? I’m hurt again. Damn. How long am I going to be out? Four to six weeks.”
Irving, who finished with 16 points and eight assists after scoring a career-low four points Sunday in Philadelphia, had nine points in the final 7:21 of the game, but he was just 3-for-12 from the field through three periods.
“They say I have a bruised heel,” he said. “I’m fine. I felt it in the first half, but I’m OK.”
In dropping their fifth straight and 15th in their last 17 games, the Cavs (24-57) almost found a way to match the uniqueness of their 98-95 loss to the Heat (65-16) on March 20 at The Q.
Cleveland blew a franchise-record 27-point lead that night, but James and the rest of The Big Three played in that one, which featured a young adult male running onto the floor to talk to James.
This one featured Cole nearly posting a triple-double while putting up a season-high 16 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and a career-high-tying nine assists as Miami first overcame an 11-point deficit, then nearly blew a 12-point lead in the last nine minutes.
It featured the Heat making 13-of-24 3-pointers through the first three periods against a porous Cavs defense, then going 0-for-4 while being outscored 24-16 in the fourth.
Finally, it featured Scott pointing to youngsters like Irving, Dion Waiters (16 points), Tristan Thompson (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Tyler Zeller (eight points, two rebounds) as reasons why fans should be patient and believe the Cavs are on the right track.
When asked if he thought he would be back to coach those players next season, Scott said bluntly, “I am going to be back to coach them next year.”
Asked if someone in authority had told him that, Scott said, “I’ve got a year left on my contract. That’s the way I approach that.”
Asked if he wanted Scott to be the team’s coach next season, Irving said, “Absolutely, I want Coach Scott back.”
Down 96-95 after Cole missed two free throws with 14.2 seconds left, the Cavs called two timeouts with 13.9 ticks on the clock, then ran virtually the only play they’ve run all season when needing a hoop on their final possession.
They inbounded to Irving and spread the floor, but after the Cleveland point guard did a quick spin move and started to go up for a shot, Cole stripped him clean and dribbled out the last few seconds on the clock.
“He got his hand on the ball,” Irving said. “It was a good defensive play.”
- WHO: Cleveland vs. Charlotte
- WHEN: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
- WHERE: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.
- TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WTAM 1100-AM
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.