Cavaliers top Clippers in workman-like outing

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CLEVELAND -- Mike Brown is a fan of what he likes to call "hard-hat basketball," and that is what the CLEVELAND Cavaliers gave their coach on Saturday night.

In a fairly bizarre evening that involved a near brawl and a fan running onto the court, the Cavaliers held the visiting Los Angeles Clippers to 32 percent shooting and fought their way to an 88-82 victory.

"I love it," Brown said. "This is fun. Bodies flying all over the place, guys getting physical with one another. The Clippers were physical; I thought we were just as physical."

Physical is right, as the players needed to be separated when Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao slammed his shoulder into Clippers forward Blake Griffin with 2:21 remaining in the game. Griffin retaliated by shoving Varejao to the ground. The two then wrestled briefly before being restrained by teammates.

After the pile had been cleared, Varejao was given a personal foul and Griffin and Cavaliers guard Jarrett Jack were handed technical fouls.

Play was also stopped in the first half when a fan sporting a T-shirt asking Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving not to leave, ran onto the floor. He was quickly grabbed by security guards and taken into police custody. A Cavaliers official said later that the fan was a minor.

As for the game, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving rebounded from the lone scoreless night of his two-plus seasons to tally 20 points and six assists. He buried his first shot early in the game to break a nasty spell of 14 consecutive misses and five straight quarters without a point.

But none of that was overly concerning to Brown.

"I don't care if he goes 0-of-30, I want him to keep being aggressive," Brown said. "If he missed five in a row and he feels like he can get a great look on his next one, take it and I'll back him. I'll support him. I just don't want him to lose his aggressiveness on that end, because we need him to score."

Power forward Tristan Thompson also scored 20 for the Cavaliers while grabbing a team-high 13 rebounds. Center Andrew Bynum added 18 points and six boards, compiling all in the first three quarters.

Bynum, the 7-foot center who missed all of last year with the Philadelphia 76ers, started both games of a back-to-back for the second time this season. He finished 8-of-13 shooting in 24 minutes.

Point guard Chris Paul tallied 13 points and a game-high 15 assists for the Clippers (13-8), who lost for the third time in four games. Reserve guard Jamal Crawford scored a team-high 19, but went just 5-of-18 shooting.

"I thought the whole game we looked (out of sorts)," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. "We did a lot of pouting, and you can't play that way. We had a lot of what I call 'emotional hijacks,' and that happens. But you have to pull yourself out of it either individually or as a group."

Center DeAndre Jordan tacked on 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, and Griffin finished with 10 and 10.

The Clippers finished just 7-of-35 on 3-pointers and were out-rebounded by a 60-45 count.

"We've got to play ball, stay together," Paul said. "We take one step forward and two steps back. It's winning time. We have to find a way to win."

The Cavaliers (7-13) raced to a 15-6 start in the fourth quarter, giving themselves some separation in what had been a back-and-fourth game that featured nine lead changes.

Jack buried a midcourt heave at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers a 67-66 edge at the end of the third quarter. The shot enabled the Cavaliers to maintain the one-point advantage they held at halftime (50-49).

Their biggest lead of the first half came (37-28) came with 7:36 left in the second, when Irving drove and finished over Jordan at the rim. But the Clippers charged back behind 10 first-half points from Jordan and seven assists from Paul.

The Cavaliers broke away from an 18-18 tie early to take a 29-23 lead at the end of the first behind Bynum's eight points on 3-of-3 shooting. Guard Willie Green scored eight for the Clippers in the first, but finished with just 11.

The Cavaliers have won 13 of 15 against the Clippers.

NOTES: Clippers G Chris Paul, F Blake Griffin and C DeAndre Jordan have compiled double-doubles in the same game eight times in their two-plus seasons together (most recently Dec. 1). The Clippers are 5-3 in those games. ... Clippers G Jamal Crawford entered Saturday night as the NBA's top-scoring reserve (15.8 ppg). Cavaliers G Dion Waiters (15.1 ppg) was second. ... Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving is one of just three players in the Eastern Conference to average at least 19 points and five assists per game. ... Irving, in his third season, went scoreless for the first time in his career Friday at Atlanta (0-of-9 shooting). Cavaliers rookie F Anthony Bennett also finished with 0 points, marking the first time two former No. 1 overall draft picks went scoreless in the same game for the same team.

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