Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – When Kyrie Irving went down with an injury that would sideline him four to six weeks, it looked like a long road ahead for the Cavaliers.
There’s no doubt that there will be tough games ahead, but Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena the team leaned on Irving’s replacement, Jeremy Pargo, to break a six-game losing streak in a 92-83 win.
Pargo, who played with the Memphis Grizzlies last season, had a game to remember, going for 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting, hitting key shots down the stretch to put the Sixers away.
Going into the game, Pargo had played in just three of the first ten Cavs games, and was putting up just 2.7 points per game.
“It was a big opportunity for us as a team,” Pargo said. “I just wanted to come out and play hard and make the game easy for my teammates.”
The point guard did that, dishing out four assists with five rebounds, and he only turned the ball over three times.
Pargo’s previous career high came last season against Oklahoma City when he scored 15 points.
He made five starts as a rookie with Memphis in 2011-2012, but had only played in three of the Cavaliers’ first 10 games – totaling 23 minutes. Cleveland acquired him in an offseason trade.
Andy Varejao was his usual self, going off for 10 points but collecting 19 rebounds in the win. He entered Wednesday’s game 2nd in the NBA in rebounding.
Varejao also was the leader on the floor, and as usual the emotional leader as he was a key factor in getting the Cavs their third win of the season to go along with eight losses.
The Cavs “Wild Thing” helped them gain a 55 to 39 edge in rebounding.
“Our defense was good, we’ve been working our defense everyday,” Varejao said. “If we keep doing that we are going to win a lot more games.”
Rookie Dion Waiters had 16 points and six assists, and Alonzo Gee added 14 points, going 4-for-6 from three-point range to pace the Cavs.
Philadelphia was able to take a 19-point deficit and get it to single digits for most of the fourth quarter until the Cavs hot shooting was able to put the game away.
The Cavs led 65-50 midway through the third quarter, but the 76ers chipped away at the margin. Nick Young’s basket with 3:31 to play cut the lead to 79-77, but Cleveland put the game away with a 13-0 run.
A basket and a 3-pointer by Pargo, two free throws from Varejao and 3-pointers by C.J. Miles and Waiters rebuilt the lead.
The Cavaliers took a 38-19 lead midway through the second quarter. The 76ers cut the lead to six late in the period, but Cleveland was ahead 47-35 at halftime. Philadelphia was 12 of 45 from the field in the first half.
Philadelphia cut the lead to 52-50 early in the third quarter before the Cavaliers scored 13 straight points. Gee and Waiters scored five points apiece in the run.
Varejao was hit with a technical foul in the fourth quarter. Varejao thought he was fouled going to the basket, but a jump ball was called and he protested to the officials.
The Cavaliers had lost six straight to the 76ers.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)