Cavaliers ease past 76ers

Kyrie Irving (left) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shooting over Kendall Marshall of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday. The Cavaliers defeated the 76ers 108-86.
Kyrie Irving (left) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shooting over Kendall Marshall of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday. The Cavaliers defeated the 76ers 108-86.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Irving returns from surgery for his season debut, Philly lose 28 of their first 29 games

CLEVELAND • With music thumping off the walls of the winning locker room, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert got dressed in a row on Sunday with their heads bouncing to the beat.

It took a quarter of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are getting healthy and finding their rhythm again.

Irving returned from knee surgery to score 12 points in 17 minutes, and the Cavs easily handled the Philadelphia 76ers 108-86 on Sunday for their fifth consecutive win.

Irving missed his first five shots on his debut following surgery in June to repair a fractured kneecap. The All-Star MVP (Most Valuable Player) and two-time All-Star was injured during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Back after sitting out the season's first 24 games, he showed rust early, scoring just two points in the first half. However, he had seven points in the third quarter when he showed a couple of moves that have made him one of the league's premier back-court players.

  • 28

    The 76ers are the first team to lose 28 of their first 29 games in a National Basketball Association season.

    19

    Philadelphia have lost 19 straight conference games, equalling the 1970-71 Portland Trail Blazers' record.

    18.6

    The 76ers average 18.6 turnovers per game - the highest in the league.

    91.2

    Philadelphia average 91.2 points per game - the lowest in the league.

He made a signature crossover dribble and scored on a twisting layup before dropping a three-pointer to give the Cavs a 62-40 lead.

"Kind of been a long, long road," said the guard, who will face the New York Knicks on Wednesday before the Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

"But finally getting out there with my team-mates was a pleasure."

Forward James scored 23 points in a season-low 25 minutes for the Cavs (18-7), and guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 20 points off the bench, including four three-pointers.

Both marks were season-highs for Dellavedova, who missed matching his career highs by one.

Said Cavs coach David Blatt of Irving: "You see a guy like that every day fighting his way back and working hard and going through stages.

"I think the guys just felt good to see him out there, professionally and also on a human level."

Forward Nerlens Noel had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and centre Jahlil Okafor had nine points and eight rebounds for the Sixers (1-28), who have dropped 10 straight games following their lone win of the season.

The Cavs took control in the second quarter when they forced 10 turnovers and the Sixers shot 19 per cent (4-for-21) in the period.

Cleveland led by 17 at the half and built the margin to as many as 35 in the fourth quarter against the team that is the worst in the league. The Sixers become the first team in NBA history to lose 28 of their first 29 games.

Despite all of the losses, Sixers coach Brett Brown liked the way his team competed this season - up until the last couple of weeks, when he sensed deep frustration setting in.

The Sixers lead the league in turnovers and added to that dubious distinction with another 21 on Sunday.

"The physical side of it does push our guys around," he said.

"We get overwhelmed. There's a physical side right now we are lacking."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2015, with the headline 'Cavaliers ease past 76ers'. Print Edition | Subscribe