Saturday, February 25, 2012

Irving Stars as Team Chuck Wins Rising Stars Game

If last night was any indication, the future looks bright for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 34 points while connecting on all 8 of his 3-pointers for Team Chuck, and Tristan Thompson led Team Shaq with 20 points as the two Cavaliers combined to make 22 of their 24 shots in the BBVA Rising Stars Game. With 13 wins this season, the Cavs are just 6 shy of matching last year's total of 19 when they finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. A lot of that can be attributed to Irving who has been Cleveland's starting point guard since Day 1 this season. Irving leads all rookies with 18.1 points per game and was as locked in as he's ever been last night. In addition to his sharp shooting, Irving also dished out a team high 9 assists and continues to show exceptional poise for a player who played just 11 games in college prior to being drafted. Thompson has been used exclusively as a reserve this year, but following Anderson Varejao's injury two weeks ago he has recorded at least 10 rebounds on three different occasions and notched his first two double-doubles.
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Some of the other notable performances from last night's game:

*Evan Turner flirted with a triple double finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Despite being the #2 pick in the draft last year, Turner failed to receive an invitation to last year's Rookie-Sophomore challenge. This year, he's proved to be a reliable bench performer for a much-improved 76ers team, and made the most of his appearance last night.
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*Paul George finished second to Irving with 23 points and offered a glimpse at what people can expect in tonight's Slam Dunk Contest.

*DeMarcus Cousins didn't quite match the 33 points and 14 rebounds he tallied in last year's game, but he still managed to score 18 points, grab 11 rebounds and dish out 3 assists. Cousins continues to improve in almost every category in his second year in the league and currently ranks 5th in the league in rebounding.
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*John Wall set a record with 22 assists last year, and while he took a back seat to Irving this year, Wall still had his share of highlights including a dazzling array of dunks in the second half. The first overall pick in 2010 finished with 17 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had 8 assists. He also had a pair of impressive blocks.
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*Greg Monroe had 14 points and 8 rebounds a year ago as a reserve for the rookies. This year, as a starter for Team Shaq, he scored 19 points, grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, tallied 4 assists and led all players with 5 steals. Monroe also had one of the highlights of the game, when he intercepted a self-pass by John Wall and turned it into two points the other way.

*Ricky Rubio's numbers weren't all that great, just 12 points and 7 assists, but he did offer this impressive sequence in which he dribbled through DeMarcus Cousins' legs and then hit Blake Griffin for an alley oop dunk.

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