CLEVELAND -- After Kyrie Irving broke his hand last summer, there was much trepidation at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday when Irving was taken to the locker room holding his hand.
Luckily for the Cavaliers, he was diagnosed with a bruised left index finger.
He returned to the game but couldn't prevent the Cavs from losing to the Dallas Mavericks 103-95 before 18,633.
"I'm getting through it," Irving said. "It's really bruised right now. It hurts a lot, but I'm going to get through it. I'm not feeling comfortable with my left hand right now. I only had one hand, so I was trying to force shots over (7-foot) Chris Kaman."
Irving scored a game-high 26 points, including 10 when he returned to the game to start the fourth quarter.
Everyone in the arena was concerned, though, when he walked off the court with athletic trainer Max Benton with 6:54 left in the third quarter. Irving had surgery on his right hand last summer.
The Cavs have been struggling on defense, and that malady returned Saturday when the Mavs shot 51.4 percent from the field for the game, 58.8 percent in the fourth quarter.
"The biggest thing is what we're doing on the defensive end," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "It's not carrying over. We have to keep doing it. They've got to get it sooner or later. We have to keep teaching."
Shooting guard O.J. Mayo, a native of Ohio, paced the Mavs with 19 points.
However, it was the play of Kaman that was most impressive. He finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots.
"I thought we played a very good game," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had a lot of guys step up from the bench, and we needed everybody. This was a big win for us."
The Mavericks (6-5) wanted to find a way to slow down the Cavs' potent backcourt of Irving and rookie Dion Waiters. The two combined for 42 points, but Waiters shot just 4 of 16 from the field. He has made just 7 of 32 in his last two games.
"We know how good they are and how dependent they are on their playmaking," Carlisle said. "We gave them a lot of respect and the guys put a lot of effort. That's the only way you can slow down those guys."
The Mavs got a good defensive effort from guard Dominique Jones, who finished with 10 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Carlisle said Jones got increased playing time at the recommendation of owner Mark Cuban.
"My owner gets an assist on that one," Carlisle said.
Cavs center Anderson Varejao, coming off a career-high 35 points against New Jersey on Tuesday, couldn't find the basket. He was 2 of 11 from the field for four points and seven rebounds. He had trouble shooting over the 7-foot Kaman.
The Cavs' bench has struggled all season. Other than guard Daniel Gibson, who had 16 points and five rebounds, the reserves didn't really get the job done. The Cavs' bench was outscored 45-24.
Dallas guard Vince Carter fired in 14 points off the bench.
For the Cavaliers, swingman Alonzo Gee finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Power forward Tristan Thompson was active around the basket with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.