Cavs 2-0 with Deng, look to stay hot vs. Kings
Coming off a pair of impressive showings, the Cleveland Cavaliers are hoping to keep building with Luol Deng on board.
The last-place Sacramento Kings have also been playing better of late.
The visiting Cavaliers and the Kings both go for a third consecutive win when these teams meet Sunday.
After easily getting by Philadelphia 111-93 on Tuesday behind C.J. Miles’ season-best 34 points, Cleveland (13-23) beat Utah 113-102 on Friday in the opener of a season-high five-game road trip. Kyrie Irving led the way with 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and a career high-tying five steals while Deng scored 10 in 21 minutes in his Cavaliers debut.
"I’m really excited. I see the way guys are setting a screen, where we are scoring from," said Deng, acquired from Chicago on Monday. "I just want to bring in something that we don’t have. Whether it’s posting up or defensively getting the guys going. You don’t want to come to a new team and bring something that is already there."
The Cavaliers shot 54.2 percent – their second-best mark of the season – while outscoring the Jazz 54-40 in the paint and outrebounding them 45-34. Cleveland, enjoying back-to-back wins for the first time since a season-high three-game run Dec. 7-13, snapped a five-game road losing streak.
The Cavaliers, 3-15 away from home, haven’t posted consecutive road wins since Dec. 22-26 of last season.
"Especially on the road, for us to lock in and fight the right way to get that win, to start the road trip off the right way, was big," said coach Mike Brown, whose team outscored Utah 39-21 in the third quarter. "You give our guys credit for coming out the second half and playing the game of basketball like they know how."
The Cavaliers now turn their attention to the Kings (12-22), who are looking to win three straight for the first time since Dec. 5-8 of last season. Sacramento beat Portland 123-119 on Tuesday before cruising to a 103-83 victory over Orlando on Friday.
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points, 14 boards and six assists while Rudy Gay finished with 22, 10 and five, respectively.
"We validated our Portland win. For one of the few times this year, after beating a good team, we came back and validated it and we built on that win," coach Michael Malone told the NBA’s official website.
The Kings, who shot 51.3 percent and limited the Magic to 33.3 percent, improved to 10-3 when scoring at least 105 points.
"It’s all a tribute to us moving the ball, playing together and also running and playing Kings basketball," Gay said.
Acquired from Toronto on Dec. 9, Gay is averaging 23.4 points while shooting 56.3 percent in helping the Kings win four of seven.
"Rudy has helped us out so much and gives us another option offensively," Cousins said. "He’s been a great addition."
Cousins is enjoying a torrid start to 2014, averaging 29.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in four games.
Miles, meanwhile, has averaged 22.8 points in Cleveland’s last four, more than double his season mark of 10.3.
The Cavaliers had taken 10 of 11 from the Kings before losing both matchups last season by a combined nine points. Cousins averaged 22.0 points and 15.0 rebounds in those games.
Cleveland has averaged 108.7 points during a 6-1 stretch at Sacramento.