Cavaliers 124, Warriors 97
Pavlovic scored a career-high 24 points filling in for his injured teammate and the Cavaliers rolled without their superstar, pounding the Golden State Warriors 124-97 on Tuesday night.
James missed his second game in a less than a week with a sprained right big toe, an injury that isn’t going to improve without rest. Cleveland’s medical staff advised James to take the night off and there’s a chance he could miss more games.
The Cavaliers didn’t need James against the Warriors, scoring a season-high in points with their most balanced attack in nearly 13 years. They improved to 8-2 in games the All-Star forward has missed because of injuries during his career.
“He’s our guy, so when he’s out we have to cut harder, screen better and execute that much more,” coach Mike Brown said.
Donyell Marshall added 15 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 14 with 10 rebounds and Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak at home while getting eight players in double figures for the first time since April 22, 1994.
“This was a chance for some of us to make names for ourselves,” said Marshall, who had his third straight solid game. “We all know what LeBron can do. With him out, we knew we all had to step up.”
Pavlovic, averaging just 14.6 minutes per game, bolted immediately after his best game as a pro and wasn’t available for comment.
The Cavaliers made a season-high 12 3-pointers, including four by rookie Daniel Gibson, who made his first start at point guard.
Baron Davis scored 21 points to lead the Warriors, who opened a six-game trip with one they’d like to forget. They went just 2-for-20 on 3-pointers, committed 20 turnovers and were never a threat in dropping their fifth straight road game.
“We’ve got to get serious about winning, that’s all it is,” Davis said. “We’ve got some guys that don’t know how to prepare for the games and it shows in their play. It’s shocking that we get beat like that and LeBron is out. We talked about it this morning, that they were going to come out with a lot of hustle and passion.
“It’s like it’s falling on deaf ears.”
This one was over early as the Cavaliers bolted to a 15-point lead after 12 minutes and never let the Warriors get inside double digits the rest of the way.
Searching for more points from his point guard, Brown replaced Eric Snow in the starting lineup with Gibson, who finished with 12 points, two assists and two turnovers in 25 minutes.
“It was special,” Gibson said. “I had a couple of butterflies. I really haven’t had butterflies like that in a long time.”
Pavlovic started last Friday at Philadelphia when James missed his first game of the season to rest his toe. But coach Mike Brown curiously sat the 6-foot-7 swingman during Cleveland’s 115-100 loss to Phoenix on Sunday.
One of Cleveland’s most athletic players, Pavlovic scored 15 in the first half and then bettered his career-high by burying a 3-pointer with 6:33 remaining to give Cleveland a 110-84 lead.
With James relaxing on the bench wearing a brown velour dress jacket, the Cavaliers worked the ball around on offense instead of doing their usual standing around to watch their leading scorer take over.
They pushed the tempo, made the extra pass and looked better with the ball than they have in weeks.
Ilgauskas scored 12 points as Cleveland built a 67-47 halftime lead. The 7-foot-3 center also had a LeBron-like assist, dropping a no-look, over-the-head pass in the lane to a cutting Drew Gooden for a dunk that put the Cavaliers up by 20 and brought a screaming James out of his seat.
Golden State coach Don Nelson was disappointed in his club’s effort while falling to 4-16 in road games.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t come to play,” he said. “We never got rolling and that was the least of what I thought our problems would be.”
Cavaliers rookie G Shannon Brown hasn’t been playing—or practicing— because of a deep shin bruise he sustained when he was accidentally kicked in practice. For some reason, the club has not been listing Brown on its injury report. … Nelson has used 25 different starting lineups, an NBA-high. … Former Cavaliers interim head coach Keith Smart and assistant Stephen Silas are now with Golden State. … The Cavs have won 15 of 17 at home against the Warriors.