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Cleveland at Phoenix

Venue: US Airways Center
  •  

Kyrie Irving is the clear leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he's going to need plenty of help moving forward if two of the team's big men miss considerable time.

With Anderson Varejao and first-round pick Tyler Zeller on the shelf, Cleveland continues its road trip Friday night against the Phoenix Suns in a matchup of two of the NBA's worst defensive teams.

Irving battled a stomach virus earlier Wednesday but overcame the illness to score a game-high 28 points and dish out seven assists in a 106-96 loss to Golden State, dropping the Cavaliers (2-3) to 1-2 on their six-game trek.

Varejao, averaging 14.0 points and 15.0 rebounds, and Zeller both sat out after being injured in Monday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Varejao bruised his knee, Zeller sustained a concussion and broken cheekbone, and it's unclear when either will return.

Cleveland trailed by 16 at the end of the first quarter Wednesday and couldn't recover. Golden State shot 53.8 percent, and the Cavs are allowing opponents to hit 50.8 percent overall to rank last in the league.

"The first quarter was a prime example of coming out and almost feeling sorry for ourselves because we don't have Andy and Tyler," coach Byron Scott said.

"It was all about the defense, simple as that. Until our guys understand how important that is we're going to have these ups and downs."

Irving is averaging 24.6 points and 6.2 assists, though the reigning Rookie of the Year likely needs help from the team's other youngsters. Fellow 2011 lottery pick Tristan Thompson had 11 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday, and third-year player Samardo Samuels added 11 points and seven boards starting for Varejao. Rookie Dion Waiters had 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting after scoring 28 in the win at Los Angeles.

"We are talking about opportunity," Waiters said. "Andy had to miss a game and that gave other guys a chance to step up and play big for us. We did our best out there."

Irving scored 26 points in his only career game at Phoenix on Jan. 12, a 101-90 victory. He now faces a Suns team giving up 105.0 points per game - second-worst in the NBA.

Phoenix (2-3), though, is coming off a 117-110 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday to avoid going winless on a three-game trip. Shannon Brown sank all six of his 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter while finishing with 24 points off the bench.

"I'm glad we're not going back 0-3 on this three-game road trip," Brown said. "Hopefully we can get a little bit of momentum going as we head back home."

Brown, a first-round pick of Cleveland in 2006 who appeared in 38 games for the Cavs, scored 18 points in a loss to Miami on Monday and is averaging 14.0 in a reserve role after averaging a career-best 11.0 last season.

"I think he's very capable of doing that," coach Alvin Gentry said. "He can get on a roll. He had some games for us last year. I thought he did a great job."

So did big men Marcin Gortat and Michael Beasley. Gortat had his fourth straight double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday while Beasley notched his first with 21 and 15, respectively.

Gortat and Markieff Morris each scored a game-high 22 points and Brown added 16 in Phoenix's 108-83 win over Cleveland in the most recent meeting March 25. The Suns have won three of the last four matchups.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Cleveland 5 Phoenix -5
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Cleveland3rd Central 3349.402235-5Won 1
Phoenix3rd Pacific 4834.58595-5Won 1

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Injuries
Cleveland
PlayerInjury
C MilesAnkle
Phoenix
PlayerInjury
No injuries reported.
 
Key Players
Kyrie<br>Irving
Kyrie
Irving
, PG
34.2 Min. Per Game 30.8 Luis<br>Scola
Luis
Scola
, PF
24.6 Pts. Per Game 15.2
6.2 Ast. Per Game 2.2
4.2 Reb. Per Game 8.4
45.9 Field Goal % 50.0
44.0 Three Point % 33.3
78.6 Free Throw % 78.6
 
Team Rankings
TeamRankPoints
Cleveland Cavaliers1571.04
Phoenix Suns2856.40
 
Series Game Log
DateLocationResults
 
Other Games
Brook 107 Final
Orl 68
Mil 101 Final
Wash 91
Mia 95 Final
Atl 89
Phi 106 Final
Bos 100
Dal 94 Final
NY 104
Char 99 Final
NO 107
Ind 94 Final
Min 96
Det 94 Final
OKC 105
Hou 85 Final
Mem 93
SA 97 Final
Sac 86
Utah 84 Final
Den 104
GS 77 Final
LAL 101