Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/11/12
CLEVELAND -- The Cavaliers ran into one of the all-time greats. But not even Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's season-high 42 points could ruin the return of Cavs guard Kyrie Irving on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena. Irving had 28 points, six rebounds and a season-high 11 assists in the Cavs' exciting 100-94 victory over the struggling Lakers. He had missed the previous 11 games with a hairline fracture of his left index finger. Despite two major acquisitions in the offseason, the Lakers (9-13) have yet to mesh. They have lost seven of their last 10 games. The Cavs (5-17), meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing streak. They rode the hot hand of shooting guard C.J. Miles, who had a season-high 28 points in his first start of the season. The left-hander made 10 of 18 shots from the field, including 5 of 10 from the 3-point line. Bryant, who recently topped the 30,000-point mark of his career, came out firing from the outset. He converted 16 of 28 attempts from the field, and 3 of 9 from behind the arc. He added five rebounds and two assists. He was defended by Cavs forward Alonzo Gee, who picked up his fourth personal foul with 3:01 left in the third quarter. Cavs coach Byron Scott had no other options to guard Bryant, so he left him in the game. Gee made Bryant work on defense, too, as he had 17 points and five rebounds. Lakers center Dwight Howard was a load around the basket. He finished with 19 points and a game-high 20 rebounds. However, he was successful on 13 of 22 free throws. The Cavs also got 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists from center Anderson Varejao, along with 10 rebounds by power forward Tristan Thompson. However, the Lakers dominated the boards, 53-42. The Cavs shot 44 percent from the field, while the Lakers were held to 41.3 percent. The Cavs are now 7-1 in their last eight games against the Lakers at The Q. The Lakers' 11-3 run to start the second half got them back in the game. They trailed, 57-50, before Gee buried a 3-pointer from the corner. Irving's 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left in the third quarter extended the Cavs' lead to 68-62.The Cavs lost shooting guard Daniel Gibson to a hyperextended right elbow in the second quarter. He didn't return. The Cavs converted just 5 of 22 shots in the third, as they shot 22.7 percent from the field. They were outscored, 23-14. Miles had 16 points in the first half, as the Cavs opened up a 54-39 lead. He made 6 of 9 shots in the first half, including 4 of 6 from behind the arc. Irving had 14 points and dished out seven assists. Varejao had eight points, two rebounds and two steals, as the Cavs opened up a 29-23 advantage after one quarter. NOTES: Miles might be shooting himself out of his slump NOTES: Cavs shooting guard C.J. Miles might be shooting himself out of his slump. He's averaged 12.7 points in his previous three games. He made his first start of the season Tuesday. "He's been playing pretty well the last few games," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "I think his confidence is back. No. 2, just from a size differential of having 'Boobie' trying to guard Kobe is too much." Daniel Gibson has started the previous four games at shooting guard, but at 6-foot-2, he would have trouble guarding the 6-6 Kobe Bryant. "Sometimes, it doesn't matter who you put on Kobe," Scott said. ... Scott's last year with the Lakers (1996-97) was also Bryant's rookie season. "I had a chance to be with that young man for a whole year," Scott said. "I talked to him on a day-to-day basis. No. 1, he was extremely talented. No. 2, he was very driven." Power forward Jordan Hill made his first start of the season for the Lakers. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said he hoped Hill cut down on opponent's second-chance points and improved his team's rebounding. Antawn Jamison had started the last four games. ... For the third time in three weeks, the Cavs will play four games in five nights. Scott said he's not doing anything special to keep his players fresh, other than perhaps 30-year-old Anderson Varejao. "With Andy, we want to make sure he has something in the tank after the fourth game," he said. Scott said the biggest problem with playing so many games is the lack of practice time. ... Scott said point guard Kyrie Irving doesn't have any restrictions placed on him. "I have total clearance to resume his play as I see fit," Scott said. "I will watch him closely in the first quarter." Scott expects Irving to be a little rusty. He missed the previous 11 games with a hairline fracture of his left index finger. ... Ex-Cavs forward Antawn Jamison, who in his 14th season, is wearing Scott's old No. 4. "That number is sacred," Scott said. "That number should be given to veteran guys who play the game the right way."
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