NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, February 20th
(All times Eastern)
New Orleans Hornets (19-35) at Cleveland Cavaliers (16-37), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Kyrie Irving didn't head into the All-Star break on a
positive note, but the young Cleveland Cavaliers star made up for it with an
Irving hopes to carry over a strong showing at the All-Star festivities into
Wednesday's matchup with the New Orleans Hornets at Quicken Loans Arena. It
will be the finale of a seven-game homestand (3-3) for the Cavs.
Irving, the reigning Rookie of the Year, scored 32 points in the Rising Stars
Challenge Friday night and showed off his 3-point ability the following
evening in winning the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout.
"I felt like I was a darkhorse in this competition," Irving said. "I just want
to go out there and prove that I was one of the premiere shooters out here
with all these guys ... Steve Novak and Matt Bonner. I never thought I'd beat
Irving is only the second Cavalier to win the Three-Point Shootout, joining
sharp-shooter Mark Price. He then scored 15 points for the Eastern Conference
in his first All-Star game.
Not that it was a surprise for Irving to shoot so comfortably over the
weekend, but his last performance in a 96-95 loss to San Antonio last
Wednesday didn't leave much to the imagination. The former Duke star made just
2-of-15 shots for a season-low six points and was averaging 25.4 ppg in his
previous five contests.
Cavs rookie Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 20 points and six rebounds in the
loss to the Spurs, and had 23 points in the Rising Stars Challenge. Waiters
leads all Eastern Conference rookies in points per game (14.2), assists per
game (3.2) and steals per game (1.1).
Cleveland has lost three in a row since winning three straight and is 9-16 as
the host. The Cavs will begin a three-game road trip Saturday against Orlando,
Miami and Chicago.
The Cavaliers are averaging 107.7 ppg in the first six games on the stand
New Orleans kicked off the second half of the season with Tuesday's 96-87
setback to the Chicago Bulls in the Big Easy.
Eric Gordon led the Hornets with 20 points and rookie Anthony Davis added 15
and 10 rebounds. Greivis Vasquez added a double-double of his own with 11
points and 10 assists for New Orleans, which had won two straight and four of
its last five games.
"We just couldn't really punish them back. That's a physical team. Their big
guys played extremely physical," Vasquez said of Chicago's tough defense.
The Hornets committed nine of their 15 turnovers in the final quarter.
Vasquez leads all guards with 21 double-doubles. Gordon may not play Wednesday
since he's still fresh from returning from a knee ailment.
New Orleans, which owns a 10-19 away ledger, is scheduled to open a three-game
homestand Friday versus Dallas, Sacramento and Brooklyn.
The Hornets and Cavaliers are meeting for the first time this season and will
close out the series March 31 at New Orleans Arena. The Hornets took last
season's only matchup, an 89-84 road win on Feb. 22, and have won three
straight and six of the previous nine contests in this series.
Cleveland, though, is 8-3 in the past 11 as the host.
02/20 11:13:06 ET