Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 2/15/12
CLEVELAND The Cavaliers needed a game like this. For themselves, for their fans, for everyone who was starting to wonder if this season thats suddenly become dominated by several key injuries was about to derail.The Cavs beat the Pacers 98-87 on Wednesday in a game that wasnt really even that close. It was the first in a week for rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, and all he did was show fans that, hey, maybe the Cavs dont need another trip to the draft lottery. After missing three games with a concussion, Irving was nothing less than smooth, scoring a game-high 22 points and going 8 for 12 from the floor.No word on whether the Cavs (11-16) plan to have him sit out three more.Thats a joke on a night in which the Cavs won a laugher, leading by as many as 21 over a struggling Pacers team that has lost five straight. The Cavs were nearly flawless, and Irving was their mastermind. He was always in control and along with his sizzling shooting, he made a special effort to get center Semih Erden involved early. It worked, as the 7-footer from Turkey outperformed Pacers All-Star giant Roy Hibbert to the tune of 18 points (on 7-for-8 shooting) and eight rebounds.He was a little bit more aggressive tonight, Cavs coach Byron Scott said of Erdin, who was filling in for the injured Anderson Varejao (wrist). We want him to try to be assertive when hes out there on both ends of the floor. He was a little more comfortable and confident in doing that.Other top performers included forward Antawn Jamison, who helped force Pacers forward David West into 4-for-15 shooting, and guard Ramon Sessions (13 points), who returned to his backup role behind Irving and made all five of his field-goal attempts. That included an unlikely fadeaway 3-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet.Meanwhile, the Pacers (17-12) couldnt hit a shot while standing up straight, finishing a wretched 37 percent from the field with just nine assists. They were without small forward Danny Granger, perhaps their best player, and coming off a loss to Miami the night before.But this game was about Irvings magnificent return, Alonzo Gees spectacular breakaway dunk, and even Omri Casspi pulling down a season-high nine boards.In fact, about the only downside was another injury, to starting shooting guard Daniel Gibson, who rolled his ankle and left the arena in a walking boot. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.Its frustrating it hurts pretty badly, said Gibson, the backup to starter Anthony Parker, who has been out with a bad back. When you first roll it, you try to figure out whats wrong. Ive had this injury before, so hopefully, I can heal quicker.As a unit, however, the Cavs have returned to a good place for one night. A place where Irving controls the tempo, Sessions does everything thats asked off the bench, and Erden comes to life.It was a good win for us, Scott said. The effort was fantastic on both ends of the floor. We really moved the ball and got pretty much any shot that we wanted.Thats hard to beat, and something on which the Cavs can build. And really, thats what this season is supposed to be about.
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