CLEVELAND — At least for one night, the Cleveland Cavaliers managed just fine without Kyrie Irving.
Jeremy Pargo, filling in for Cleveland’s injured star, scored a career-high 28 points and the Cavaliers broke a six-game losing streak with a 92-83 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Cavaliers coach Byron Scott decided to go with Pargo, who had only played in three of the first 10 games, at the team’s shoot-around on Wednesday morning. The second-year pro hit 11 of 19 from the field and scored five points during a 13-0 run after the Sixers cut the lead to 79-77 with 3:31 to play.
“I saw it all coming,” Scott said following the game, a comment that drew a long laugh from the coach.
“I don’t think anyone expected J.P. to come in and play the way he did,” Scott said. “You have to give him a lot of credit. We talk about opportunities. He took advantage of it.”
Pargo downplayed any notion he can take over a game as Irving has done many times in his brief career.
“Those are some big shoes to fill,” he said. “I wanted to come out aggressive, play within myself and do whatever it took to win the game. You don’t want to come out and force things.”
The 76ers, who had their three-game winning streak end, were impressed.
“Pargo played the game of his life tonight. He kills us on screens with the ball, playing one-on-one, hitting three-balls,” forward Thaddeus Young said. “It was like he was playing a video game against us, NBA2K.”
The Cavaliers came into the game with a 2-8 record and an extended stretch without Irving looks ominous. The NBA’s reigning rookie of the year is expected to miss a month with a broken left index finger. He was injured Saturday against Dallas and played the next night in Philadelphia before an MRI revealed a crack in the bone.