Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/9/13
CLEVELAND -- It's been almost a month since the Cavaliers won at Quicken Loans Arena. They rode the hot hand of point guard Kyrie Irving to pound the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, 99-83, before an announced crowd of 13,149 at The Q. Irving erupted for a game-high 33 points to help the Cavs snap a six-game losing streak at home. He converted 11 of 15 from the field, 5 of 6 from the 3-point line and 6 of 6 from the foul line. He dished out four assists. "We've proven we can play with the best teams in the league," Irving said. "We have to play a full 48 minutes. Home court is definitely important." The Cavs are just 4-12 at home this season. They hadn't won at The Q since Dec. 11 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Irving was particularly lethal in the fourth quarter with 18 points. "He was aggressive (in the fourth)," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "I didn't think he took any bad shots. He let the offense come to him. He was able to get where he wanted to go. His in-between game was good. He was able to get to the basket. He had all of his facets going. He was never out of control." The Cavs announced before the game that center Anderson Varejao will have surgery on his right knee on Thursday and will be sidelined for six to eight weeks. There's no reason the Cavs (9-28) can't win games without him, especially if they get performances from their big men like they did on Wednesday. Power forward Tristan Thompson, who has absolutely thrived in Varejao's absence, recorded his 13th double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Rookie center Tyler Zeller, who has replaced Varejao in the starting lineup, had 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. "They don't have to do that every night, but somewhere near there would be nice," Scott said. "Kyrie needs to play that way. We need four or five guys to play well every night." The Hawks (20-14), who entered the game with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, dropped their fourth game in a row. They had a four-game winning streak snapped at The Q. The losing skid prompted a breakfast meeting called by Hawks coach Larry Drew. However, even a change to his starting lineup couldn't light a fire under his team. "We did not do a good enough job from the execution standpoint, therefore we settled for jump shots time and time again," Drew said. "We only got to the free-throw line five times for the game. You can't play that way on the road." Forward Josh Smith paced the Hawks with 17 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Lightning-quick Jeff Teague added 15 points and eight assists. The Hawks started the third quarter on an 11-2 run to knot the score at 51. The Cavs took the lead for good on Dion Waiters' 3-pointer with 8:47 left in the third. The Cavs led 77-63 entering the fourth quarter. The Cavs used only nine players. Swingman C.J. Miles (back spasms) and shooting guard Daniel Gibson (concussion) were on the active list, but weren't quite ready to play. Gibson was cleared from the NBA protocol guidelines, but said he needed more time in five-on-five scrimmage time. Miles just wasn't ready to play. Cavs forward Alonzo Gee fired in 15 points, 12 in the first quarter. The Cavs also got a strong effort from guard Shaun Livingston off the bench. He had eight points, four rebounds, a team-high five assists and a steal. Perhaps, the much-traveled Livingston has found a home in Cleveland. "Shaun has played well," Scott said. "He brings a calming influence when he comes into the game. That's what I love about him." The Cavs shot 52 percent from behind the arc (12 of 23) against the Hawks as they outscored Atlanta from long distance, 36-21. Smith said Irving was hard to handle on Wednesday. "The way he was shooting the ball, it was kind of hard to defend him," he said. 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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