October 30, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
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Cavs: Sunday’s defense pleases Brown

INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers remember their last game — both overall and against the Sacramento Kings.

Cleveland played arguably its best defense of the season Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena, holding Memphis to .384 shooting (33-for-86) in a hard-fought 91-83 overtime victory.

“It was hard for me to find clips where we didn’t play a defensive play right,” coach Mike Brown said Monday following practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “It was hard (Sunday) night, for one of the first times. I was really excited by our execution.

“It made me feel real good,” he added. “I was excited about watching that tape. It went by quicker, too.”

That wasn’t the case the last time the Cavs played Sacramento, which ripped them 124-80 on Jan. 12 at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings, who visit The Q tonight, shot .518 from the field and got 26 points from Isaiah Thomas, 20 from Rudy Gay and 16 points and 11 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins.

The Cavs, meanwhile, saw Kyrie Irving score seven points on 3-for-14 shooting and Dion Waiters put up four points on a 1-for-7 performance.

“If any of our guys don’t remember that, it was a tough one,” Brown said. “Let’s leave it at that.”

Brown was much happier with his team’s effort against the Grizzlies, which gave Cleveland (18-33) a two-game winning streak for the first time since Jan. 10.

“(Sunday) night was the closest we’ve come to putting a 48-minute game together, especially defensively, the whole season,” he said. “I was excited about our defensive execution.

“It was a thing of beauty,” the coach added. “I just wish we wouldn’t have lost the nine-point lead that easily, but we found a way to win.”

Cleveland led 74-65 with 6:22 to play in the fourth quarter, but went scoreless for almost 5 minutes as Memphis’ James Johnson went on a 13-0 run all by himself.

The Cavs, however, rallied to force overtime and never trailed in the 5-minute session, when the Grizzlies scored just five points.

“The last game, since I’ve been here, was by far our best home game in terms of defensively and coming out ready,” said small forward Luol Deng, who was acquired on Jan. 6. “I thought everybody did a good job of doing the little things.

“Nobody tried to do too much. Everybody did a little something. Going forward, that’s the team we want to be. … When you win, everyone starts to realize how much everybody on the court matters.”

Cleveland’s big men were particularly effective defensively, as Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph missed his last seven shots and didn’t score over the final 26:03, while center Marc Gasol finished 3-for-11 from the field.

“Right now, it’s about us,” Deng said. “We just played two good games and got two good wins. We want to keep it rolling.”

Tip-ins

Cavs center Anderson Varejao, who played 43 minutes against the Grizzlies, did not practice and had an MRI on his lower back. Results were negative. He’s listed as day-to-day.

• Swingman C.J. Miles also didn’t practice and had an X-ray on his right foot. Results were negative and he is listed as day-to-day.

• Deng did not practice in order to rest his sore Achilles. He is expected to start tonight.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.