Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/9/13
CLEVELAND -- Guard Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 33 points to propel the Cavaliers to a 99-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena. Irving was magnificent on the offensive end by making 11 of 15 from the field, 5 of 6 from the 3-point line and 6 of 6 from the foul line. The 6-foot-3, 191-pounder dished out four assists. The Hawks (20-14), who entered the game with the third seed in the Eastern Conference, dropped their fourth game in a row. Their four-game winning streak at The Q also was snapped. The Cavs (9-28) used just nine players. Two others were available, swingman C.J. Miles and shooting guard Daniel Gibson, but both were coming off injuries. Cavs forward Alonzo Gee fired in 15 points, 12 in the first quarter. Power forward Tristan Thompson, who has thrived during Anderson Varejao's absence, recorded his 13th double-double of the season. He had a game-high 14 rebounds and added 11 points. Center Tyler Zeller added 11 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and three assists. The Cavs also got a strong effort from guard Shaun Livingston off the bench. He had eight points, three rebounds and a team-high five assists. Perhaps, the much-traveled Livingston has found a home in Cleveland. Forward Josh Smith paced the Hawks with 17 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Jeff Teague added 15 points and eight assists. The Cavs are now 2-1 against the Hawks this year. The Hawks started the third quarter on an 11-2 run to knot the score at 51. The Cavs recovered and led 77-63 entering the fourth quarter. The Cavs extended their lead to nine points at halftime, 49-40. They had three players in double figures in scoring, led by Irving's 13 points. Gee added 12 points, while Thompson had 10 points and nine rebounds. For the Hawks, Smith had 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and four blocks. He was very active around the basket. Zaza Pachulia, making a rare start and added four points and seven rebounds. Gee, not known for his perimeter shooting, buried 4 of 7 3-point goals in the opening quarter. That helped the Cavs take a one-point advantage after one quarter, despite the Hawks shooting 68.4 percent in the period and outrebounding the Cavs, 13-5. Smith had nine points and three blocks in the first quarter for Atlanta. Notes: Varejao is scheduled to undergo knee surgery on Thursday at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. He'll miss six to eight weeks. "Why, me?" he asked. "Why, me? It's something I don't have control of." For the third consecutive season, his season will be cut short by injury. He had ankle surgery in 2010-11, which caused him to miss 51 games. He had a fractured wrist in 2011-12, which caused him to miss 41 games. Now, this season, he's already missed 11 games. At the time of his injury, he was leading the NBA in rebounding at 14.4 per game. Varejao also was averaging 14.1 points and shooting 47.8 percent from the field. It's difficult for him to stay healthy because of how hard he plays. "That's how I play," he said. "That's how I help this team. This was a bad hit. He caught my knee in the right spot. I hope I don't hurt it anymore." His rehab after the surgery will take him into March, long past the NBA trade deadline. Injured players can still get traded, but the Cavs wouldn't get full value for him. ... Varejao has been replaced in the starting lineup by Zeller. After an early flourish, the 7-foot, 250-pounder has leveled off. "It's nice to be starting, but it's disappointing we've lost such a great player," Zeller said. "That experience you can't get anywhere else. We'll definitely miss him. I'll have a much bigger role now." ... Cavs forward Luke Walton (personal matter) remains away from the team. ... For the Hawks, guard Devin Harris (sore left foot) played for the first time since Dec. 18 at Washington. He's missed the previous nine games. ... Swingmen Anthony Morrow (right hip strain) and DeShawn Stevenson (knees) didn't play. The Hawks try to limit Stevenson in back-back-back sets because of his knees. "He's good," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "We want to keep him healthy." ... The Cavs might sign a big man to a 10-day contract. One possibility is Canton Charge center Micheal Eric. ... The Hawks moved Kyle Korver into the starting lineup at shooting guard to counter Miles, who didn't play. Drew also inserted Pachulia at center and shifted Al Horford to power forward and Smith to small forward. Drew said he wanted to shake things up.
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