Cavs look to overcome adversity in matchup with Golden State
The Cleveland Cavaliers took a chance that Andrew Bynum could regain the form that made him an All-Star two years ago.
Now the experiment seems to have ended in disappointing fashion.
With Bynum likely having played his last game with the team, Cleveland will try to avoid matching its longest skid of the season when it hosts the surging Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
The Cavaliers (10-19) suspended their starting center indefinitely before Saturday’s 103-100 loss to Boston for "conduct detrimental to the team" and banned him from all team-related activities.
"He’s on an indefinite suspension and I’m not trying to be funny, but you know what indefinite means," said coach Mike Brown, who coached Bynum while both were with the Los Angeles Lakers. "We’ve got 14 guys in that locker room who are very focused and determined and ready to take on any challenge that’s in front of them."
Bynum averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds during his All-Star season for the Lakers in 2011-12. He was dealt to Philadelphia before last season, but never appeared in a game because of ongoing knee problems.
The Cavaliers hoped the 7-footer could come back strong after signing him to a two-year, $24 million contract in July. While he showed flashes of his old self – averaging 18.0 points and 9.0 boards during one four-game stretch – Bynum did not perform at a consistent level.
The matchup with Golden State was scheduled to be an ‘Andrew Bynum Fathead Giveaway’ game. Instead, Cleveland is expected to try to trade the veteran, who is averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds.
"It’s a terrible situation internally with our team," guard Kyrie Irving said. "It’s something we have to get over."
Anderson Varejao filled the hole in the middle Saturday, finishing with six points and eight rebounds. He’s averaging 8.9 points and 7.5 boards in 10 starts, though Cleveland has lost seven of those contests.
Irving had another big game with 32 points but the Cavaliers lost for the second time in seven games when he scores 30 or more. The All-Star has scored 28.7 per game while shooting 41.0 percent from beyond the arc in his last nine.
He’ll try to help the Cavaliers avoid a fifth straight loss, which would match their longest slide of the season.
Golden State (18-13) seeks a season-best fifth straight victory as it begins a seven-game road trip against Eastern Conference teams. The Warriors are 3-1 versus the East.
Stephen Curry missed 12 of 17 from the field in a 115-86 rout of visiting Phoenix on Friday, but finished with 14 points to go with career highs of 13 rebounds and 16 assists to record his third career triple-double.
Though he’s shot just 31.7 percent over his last four games, Curry has totaled 44 assists and 28 boards.
"Rebounded the basketball. Defended at a high level. Made shots," coach Mark Jackson told the league’s official website. "I mean, the guy is playing at an all-time level for himself, and that’s saying a lot."
Klay Thompson led the way with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, while David Lee added 17 on Friday.
With Curry out due to an ankle injury, Thompson scored 32 with six 3s and Lee had 20 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in a 108-95 win in Cleveland on Jan. 29.
Jarrett Jack had 26 points and 12 assists for Golden State in that meeting, but now he’ll face his former team for the first time since signing with the Cavaliers in July.
The Warriors have outscored the Cavaliers by an average of 12.2 points during a five-game win streak in this series.