kyrie irving

Kyrie Irving gave the Cleveland Cavaliers some much-needed good news Wednesday night.

Irving scored 18 of his 33 points in the third quarter and the injury-riddled Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks 99-83 - Cleveland’s largest margin of victory this season.

Irving’s big night came at a perfect time for his team, which hasn’t had much to feel good about lately. The Cavaliers lost five of six overall and six straight at home going into the game, but that seemed minor compared to the news that came earlier in the day.

Center Anderson Varejao will have surgery Thursday to repair a muscle that split near his right knee. He will miss six to eight weeks. Varejao was having an All-Star caliber season, averaging 14.1 points and an NBA-leading 14.4 rebounds. Irving admitted the Cavaliers, who had only 10 available players, were thinking about their sidelined teammate throughout the night…

Josh Smith scored 17 points to lead Atlanta, which has lost a season-worst four straight. Hawks coach Larry Drew, who called his team ‘’soft” following Tuesday night’s loss to Minnesota, watched them get completely outplayed after tying the game early in the third. His mood wasn’t any better following the latest lackluster effort…

Alonzo Gee scored 15 points for Cleveland, while Tristan Thompson added 11 points and 14 rebounds. Rookie Tyler Zeller, who moved into the starting lineup after Varejao was injured Dec. 18, scored 11 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds.

Jeff Teague added 15 points for Atlanta and Horford scored 14…

C.J. Miles (back spasms), Daniel Gibson (concussion) and Luke Walton (personal matter) also missed the game for Cleveland.

– Reported by Steve Herrick of the Associated Press