Not perfect, but Cavaliers’ victory answers some doubts

Random stuff on the Cavaliers as they get a few days off before Wednesday’s game against the Wizards:

• It may sound silly, but the Cavs’ overtime win Saturday at Washington was a must. They were coming off three straight losses, including a 29-point hammer job at Minnesota and a shameful home defeat vs. Charlotte the night before.

• On top of all that, a national report of a confrontational players-only meeting (which followed the Timberwolves’ game) broke Saturday afternoon. In short, it was not a great time to be a Cavalier. And the season has just started.

• There were also lots of questions about what happened to Kyrie Irving’s game, about coach Mike Brown’s offense, about GM Chris Grant’s ability to build a winner. Funny how one road win can help folks find a little perspective.

• Irving electrified his way to 41 points, the Cavs were the ones coming back from a 15-point deficit (it’s too often the other way around) and some rookie named Matthew Dellavedova was named FOX Sports Ohio’s sub of the night.

• Now, Irving sounds a lot like Brown, preaching about how defense leads to offense. “Our offensive game will take care of itself, starting on the defensive end,” Irving said after the victory.

• The Cavs are 4-7, which sounds a heck of a lot better than 3-8. They’re still close to .500, despite playing seven road games — most in the East. They’re also tied for eighth in the East standings. So they’re still about where most people had them pegged at this point.

• Dion Waiters didn’t play in either weekend game. That led to speculation of misconduct, but the Cavs have insisted he’s sick. “He’s been to the doctor twice,” Brown said.

• Waiters’ absence opened the door for Dellavedova to get more minutes. The kid they call Delly wasn’t drafted, but he scrapped his way to a roster spot. Lots of fans complained loudly about him during the preseason. But when it comes to a third-string point guard who went undrafted and has played in five real NBA games, the Cavs could do a lot worse.

• Brown and Grant have loved Dellavedova’s toughness since summer league. You may not know this, but Dellavedova can endlessly harass (and occasionally agitate) Irving in practice. That kind of resiliency has earned Dellavedova the respect of his teammates. And yes, that includes Kyrie.

• The best aspects of Delly’s game were on display Saturday. He finished with two points, two assists, two steals and (count ’em) six rebounds in 31 minutes.

• “He’s a tough son of a gun and he does what he does,” Brown said. “He plays defense the right way. He was relentless. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy go 1-of-5 from the field with six rebounds and two assists in 30-plus minutes, and impact the game the way he did.”

• The needed win and Irving’s performance overshadowed the fact Andrew Bynum started at center for the second time in as many years. He had just returned from attending a family medical matter and matched his season-high with 21 minutes. The Cavs are 2-2 when Bynum plays at least 18.

• Just about everyone played pretty well. Jarrett Jack scored 13 points off the bench. Anderson Varejao grabbed eight rebounds and passed for a team-high six assists. Tristan Thompson was again efficient with 15 points and 12 boards.

• Also, after getting benched for a couple games, Earl Clark has now started in two straight and is hitting everything. Clark went a combined 10-of-13 shooting over the weekend. That included a sizzling 6-of-7 performance on 3-pointers.

• More than that, Clark came closer to the role Brown envisioned for the small forward (although Clark played some power forward, too). Brown wants the small forward to defend, keep the ball moving, not force anything and make open shots. That was Clark in the previous two games.

• Finally, the win over the Wizards showed what the Cavs can do when they stay determined. They didn’t play a great game. They did enough to win, and they did it when all seemed lost. That’s a start. It’s also a confidence-builder.

• If the Cavs can continue to play like they did Saturday, they won’t always come out on top. But they will give themselves an opportunity on most nights, and right now, that’s really all Brown expects. Play hard, play smart, don’t take possessions off. Eventually, good things will follow.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO