Kyrie Irving spent the fourth quarter on the bench watching and relaxing with the other starters.
No need for any heroics from the All-Star guard this time.
The Cavaliers finally rolled to an easy win the way they used to on a regular basis when LeBron James was Cleveland’s hard-court king.
Irving scored 22 points in just three quarters, rookie Dion Waiters added 19 and the Cavs didn’t overlook a team with a worse record than their own by clobbering the Charlotte Bobcats 122-95. It was Cleveland’s most lopsided win since May 7, 2010 — James’ last victory with the Cavaliers.
“It was the first game that I can remember that I got a chance to sit down in the fourth quarter without it being the other way,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said following the unusual blowout, the biggest during his three seasons in Cleveland. “So that was a good feeling.”
The Cavs were coming off a stunning upset of Oklahoma City, one of the league’s best teams. It would have been easy to take the lowly Bobcats (11-37) for granted, but Cleveland came out energized from the start, built a 33-point lead after three quarters and sent Charlotte to its 11th loss in 13 games.
“This was one of those games where I was really curious to see if we learned from some of our past mistakes and if we’ve grown as a basketball team, and I can say we definitely have,” Scott said. “It’s just a matter of now just keeping it going.”
Tristan Thompson scored 17 for the young-and-improving Cavs, who are 8-9 since Jan. 1.
“It definitely shows that we’re making steps in the right direction,” said Irving, who scored 35 — 13 in the final 2:52 — against the Thunder. “We’re getting better every single game. To come out here and just play the second half the way we wanted to, and the way we finished the first half and continue to execute offensively and defensively, shows that we’re making strides.”
Byron Mullens scored 15 to pace Charlotte. Bobcats leading scorer Kemba Walker, averaging 17.8 points per game, had just five on 2-of-11 shooting.
Scott was eager to see how his team would respond after Cleveland’s stunning win over the talent-thick Thunder. While trying not to disrespect the Bobcats, Scott said before tipoff that “this is a game we should win ... this is the game you should be the most worried about as a basketball player.”