CLEVELAND (AP) -- Interim general manager David Griffin said before
the Cavaliers' game Sunday night that he'd like to see a few more smiles
from his team.
Following Cleveland's 91-83 overtime win over Memphis, there were happy faces all around the locker room.
"The game is fun," said Kyrie Irving, who scored 28 points as
Cavaliers won back-to-back games for the first time in a month. "Being
out there, just competing at the highest level. At the end of the day,
it's just a game."
The Cavaliers, who broke a six-game losing streak Friday night
against Washington, have won both games since general manager Chris
Grant was fired last week.
Irving scored the final four points in regulation to tie it. Luol
Deng's 3-pointer on the first possession of overtime put Cleveland ahead
for good, 81-78.
While a two-game winning streak won't remedy all the team's problems
in an adversity-filled season, the Cavaliers want to seize on any
positive momentum they can find.
"Everybody was putting too much pressure on themselves," Irving said.
"We needed to go out there and play basketball. Going out there the
last two games, whether the game gets tight or gets away from you, it
should be fun."
Nick Calathes scored 17 points to lead Memphis, which has lost three of four since winning six straight.
Deng began the overtime scoring with a 3-pointer from the corner as
the shot clock was winding down. Baskets by Dion Waiters and Anderson
Varejao, sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Calathes, left Cleveland with
an 85-81 lead. A resounding dunk by Waiters and four free throws by
Irving put the game away.
"They had the two best players on the floor in Dion Waiters and Kyrie
Irving," Grizzlies coach David Joerger said. "They really took the game
over from start to finish."
Joerger blamed the Grizzlies' poor first half, in which they fell behind by 14 points, for the loss.
"We slogged in the mud at the start tonight, which you can't do on the road," he said.
James Johnson scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to help Memphis
erase a nine-point deficit. Cleveland led 74-65 but was held scoreless
for 4:54 as the Grizzlies took a 78-74 lead.
Irving tied it with a layup with 18 seconds remaining and was fouled,
but missed the free throw, giving Memphis the ball with 16.7 seconds
left. Zach Randolph lost the ball while driving the lane and Waiters'
heave from just inside halfcourt hit off the backboard.
Griffin met with the players at Sunday morning at the shootaround while owner Dan Gilbert spoke with them prior to the game.
"I think it woke up a lot of people," Waiters said of Grant's
dismissal. "Me, I felt half of that was my fault, how we played. We just
didn't come out right as a unit. I think it cost the man his job. If we
had been playing the way we have the last two games he'd probably still
be here. We can't dwell on the past, we've got to continue to play the
way we've been playing and keep it up."
Waiters scored 18 points, and C.J. Miles added 14 for Cleveland.
Johnson scored 15 points for Memphis. Randolph, who left the game in
the second quarter to get three stitches to close a cut under his left
eye, had 14 points. Calathes, playing in place of the injured Mike
Conley, made his first six shots and was 7 of 9 from the field.
Randolph went to the locker room late in the second quarter after
taking an elbow in the face from Tristan Thompson while they were going
for a rebound. Randolph was on the court for a couple of moments and
asked for a towel to put to his face. He tapped hands with Thompson
before jogging off the court with a team trainer. Randolph returned to
start the third quarter.
"Teams know we try to go inside to Zach and let him go to work, but
we've got to do something with all five guys, not always depend on our
horse down there," Said Memphis forward Tayshaun Prince. "We can't allow
Zach to always be our hero. It puts us in a tough spot and it puts him
in a tough spot."
Deng started after missing Friday's game with the flu.
NOTES: Grizzlies G Tony Allen (sprained left wrist) is listed as
day-to-day, but hasn't taken part in practice. He's been out since Jan.
3. ... Varejao left the game with a hand injury in the first quarter. He
went to the locker room, but returned in the second quarter. Varejao,
who finished with 14 rebounds, also appeared to tweak his knee in the
fourth quarter but returned to the game quickly. ... Cleveland snapped a
four-game losing streak in the series.