CLEVELAND -- During the course of Saturday's 118-111 loss to the Houston Rockets at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves down by as many as 29 points in the third quarter.
However, with a simple change in the lineup, which included point guard Matthew Dellavedova, forward Anderson Varejao and center Tyler Zeller, the Cavaliers trimmed the deficit to seven points late in the game.
Dellavedova, Varejao and Zeller combined to score 52 of the Cavaliers' 111 points against the Rockets.
"Delly was great coming off the bench," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "He's been really good for us. This is his second double-double in a row. Anderson was great coming off the bench. Tyler was great. I thought our bench, in the last two games, has given us a big spark.
"They've really helped us, a. get back in the game, or b. stay in the game to a certain degree. I give those guys credit. We just have to do a better job of playing with some sense of urgency or fight and not be the recipient of whatever the team throws at us. It's going to be big in a back-to-back situation at New York."
The Cavaliers lost to the Rockets by seven points despite finding themselves in an early 17-4 hole. That is when Brown went to the bench to cut the deficit. Down by 12 at halftime, the Cavaliers started the second half on a 7-0 run.
"It seems like every time I made a change with that first group, we got back into the game right away or played with some sort of energy," Brown said. "I'll bring someone in sooner. Especially with the way we're sitting right now, I can always shake things up with our lineup. I can maybe bring guys in earlier, if I feel like it.
"It's tough because that's two nights in a row where we've come out and our first group has just been flat. They've been flat defensively, flat offensively. From the beginning, we're fighting from a hole, and not only are we fighting from a hole, but obviously, your opponent has confidence, especially offensively. It's an uphill battle that you're fighting, especially being shorthanded. We have to do a better job at the beginning of games of coming out, trying to hit first and not be the recipient."
While Brown acknowledged that making a change to the starting lineup is not in consideration, he did say that there could be an adjustment to the rotation and how long the starters play should the Cavaliers struggle early.
"I'll bring someone in sooner," Brown said. "Especially with the way we're sitting right now, I can always shake things up with our lineup. I can maybe bring guys in earlier, if I feel like it."
That adjustment could include more playing time for Varejao, who scored 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds against the Rockets despite being on a 25-minute restriction from Cleveland's medical staff as a result of back soreness that forced him out of several games after the all-star break.
"Right now, Andy's still under a minute restriction, so it's a little tough," Brown said. "If you start him, with the minute restriction, he's going to sit a long, long time. Playing him in the middle of each half, it helps with the minute restriction. It helps balance that to a certain degree."