CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was looking to snap a two-game losing streak against the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday, and in doing so, he tried some new lineup combinations.
Brown let point guard Kyrie Irving play more than 45 minutes of the team's 99-93 loss to the Raptors. It was nearly 10 minutes above his season average of 32.22, and was done in an effort to take advantage of Irving's hot hand after the NBA All-Star Game MVP scored 10 points on four of eight shooting in the first half.
"When I pulled him in the first half, we had a little trouble scoring, and I thought he was in a little bit of a groove," Brown said following the loss. "He's our best player, so I wanted to leave him on the floor to see if he could help that second unit generate some easy buckets."
Irving finished the game, the first of four in a five-day period, with 25 points and nine assists against just two turnovers. However, he finished the game only one of five from three-point range.
"I told Coach, 'I'm willing to do whatever it takes for us to get a win out there,'" Irving said before the team flew to Oklahoma City for tonight's game against the Thunder. "If it means me playing the whole game, the whole second half, I'm willing to do anything for him and my teammates. I'm just going to go out there, compete and live with the results."
Playing Irving for the entire second half was not the only lineup change Brown made in Tuesday's loss.
In order to spread the floor, Brown had dual seven-footers in the lineup at the same time in Tyler Zeller and Spencer Hawes. Zeller registered eight points and six total rebounds in 24:28 on the floor, while Hawes, who made his first start with the Cavaliers, scored 15 points and hit three of his four three-point attempts.
"I thought those guys played fairly well together," Brown said. "Offensively, our spacing was great, and Tyler did a nice job working the dunker. The floor was spaced pretty (well) for us to get into the paint and we found nice, little drop-off passes once we were down there.
"It looked good in stretches, but the one thing that concerned me, no matter what combination of bigs that we had in there, it seemed like Toronto did a nice job on the offensive glass. That's something, against bigger teams, we've got to make sure we do a better job of."
Irving said "it was different" to have the seven-footers on the floor together at first, but came to build a trust with Zeller and Hawes, despite a late turnover that led to a three-point Toronto advantage becoming a five-point edge.
"Tyler was definitely doing a great job of just staying in the dunker and Spencer was spacing out the floor really well, just making some plays off the dribble, which we need him to do consistently," Irving said. "I have confidence in Spencer. I'd trust him with that play a thousand more times."