They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.
Are things starting to turn around? The Cavaliers won back to back games for the first time this season as they used their three days off to find some toughness and defensive tenacity as they topped the weary Nuggets 98-88 in The Q. The Cavaliers improved to 6-12 on the season, and that puts them back on the track to getting back on the right side of the playoff picture.
Frontcourt comes up big – The Cavaliers got multiple key contributions from their big men this evening. It was headlined by Tristan Thompson, who posted a career-high 21 rebounds in 34 minutes. Nine of those came on the offensive end, and Thompson added 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Anderson Varejao looked like his 2012 self pre-injury with a 18 point, 13 rebound effort as Andy mixed in a nice variety of mid-range jumpers and gyroscope moves under the hoop. Andrew Bynum, who had completely changed the way the Cavs think on offense when he’s in there, posted 14 points and 7 boards in 20 minutes. He took a jaw-dropping 15 shots in those 20 minutes, hitting just 6 of them. Again, some of it’s Bynum getting that touch back as he got good position against J.J. Hickson and Timofey Mozgov. Overall, though, getting 49 points and 41 rebounds from this trio was huge as the Cavs used their size advantage.
36 and 32% – The defense really stepped things up in the second half, allowing just 36 points (15 in the fourth) and 32% shooting. Kyrie Irving had a hand in holding Ty Lawson to 1-of-11 shooting. The Nuggets are one of the better up-tempo, fastbreak teams in the league, and holding them to 88 points and only 12 fastbreak points is a major accomplishment. The wine and gold blocked their most shots in nearly a decade with 13 (3 each from Thompson, Jarrett Jack, and Varejao).
Physical but under control – The Cavaliers collected just 10 (TEN!!) personal fouls for the entire game. You wouldn’t know it from the way they scrapped underneath the basket and defended the rim. Things got heated on several occasions as there were technicals, a flagrant foul, and plenty of 50-50 balls up for grabs. Andrew Bynum collected the flagrant one for fouling J.J. Hickson. Nate Robinson and Andre Miller each grabbed technical fouls with Miller getting frustrated with Anthony Bennett and shoving him underneath the bucket.
12 – That’s the number of turnovers that the Cavalier had tonight. For them, that’s a phenomenal number, and no player had more than 3 to his name (Kyrie Irving). That, coupled with the 20 offensive rebounds, helped the Cavaliers survive just 41% shooting and win the game.