The Cavs finished off a Staples Center Sweep with another high scoring affair. With Kevin Love a late scratch with back tenderness, Tristan Thompson rejoined the starting lineup at the power forward spot. LeBron James in his third game since returning from injury(rest) approached a quadruple double. But is was Kyrie Irving who shone the most brightly on an evening full of stars(I might like Billy Crystal more than Jack Nicholson). Transition defense was a rarity as the teams combined for 56 fast break points. Let’s get to it.
This exhausting game didn’t end until around 1:15 in the morning, and it was an ugly slugfest that saw the Cavs outlast the Lakers. The Cavs didn’t look particularly better as a team, but some things got tightened up and they put up a victory against a bad team. Winning is better than losing.
The Suns gave the Cavs solar retinopathy for two and a half quarters from shining so bright. They shot 57% in the first half and kept punishing the King’s Men every single time Cleveland decided that playing defense on pick and rolls was for squares and guys on minimum contracts. Eventually, the Wine & Gold changed their tune; they played a little defense and hit some threes ending the third quarter on an 18-5 to make the game competitive. Markieff Morris led the Suns the whole game and made sure the Cavs still got a little sun burned down the stretch no matter the outcome. He had 35 points on 15-21 shooting to go with 7 rebounds. At the end of 48 minutes, the Suns shot 53%. LeBron James led the Cavs with 33 points, but more importantly, he had some vicious dunks that reminded me of 2010. J.R. Smith had the most timely buckets and shot 8-14 from three to finish the night with 29 points. (more…)
This loss was an especially tough one to witness. My PTSD from watching four years of LeBron James less Cavs triggered some pretty dark thoughts. This one was the scariest: “Pau Gasol scored 46 points for the Bulls two nights ago, and he’s not even their best player. I even lived in Chicago for a few years. Being born and raised in a city doesn’t really mean that much.” I’m here though and recapping, so I guess I’m still a fan.
The Cavs reverted to good old isolation ball as the mode of offense this game, and defensively, they refused to try. It was pathetic. DeMarcus Cousins boogied his way to 26 points on 11-23 shooting, and also had four steals, three blocks, and 13 rebounds. He made hook shots, drained jump shots, and whipped cross-court passes with five guys crashing to the paint to stop him. He even completed more fast breaks than the Cavs guards did. His partner in crime, Rudy Gay, added 23 points and did a little posting up of his own to show his wide range of non-Toronto appropriate basketball skills. When it was all finished, the Kings looked efficient mixtaping the Cavs in transition and letting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love beat themselves with poor shooting and high turnover performances. This was a well deserved loss. (more…)
The Cavs lost on the road to the best team in the NBA. The final score doesn’t really indicate how competitive the game was – it was a 5-point game midway through the 4th quarter. GS blew it open in the final four minutes. The Cavs hung in there despite some abysmal outside shooting from the guys brought in specifically for that purpose. J.R. Smith had a strong game at both ends, and Timofey Mozgov really made a difference in the limited minutes he received. Kyrie Irving was like a quiet assassin at times. Ultimately, the Cavs couldn’t stop Klay Thompson and the Warriors got so many easy baskets there was just no way the Cavs were going to overcome being without LeBron.
Cleveland hung with the Rockets for three and a half quarters, until Cleveland’s inability score and keep the Rockets off of the offensive boards put Cleveland in a hole. Kyrie Irving was unstoppable for those three three and a half quarters, scoring 38 on a dazzling array of drives, jumpers, and unbelievable dribble moves. J.R. Smith’s debut was full of excitement, misses, and turnovers, but he wasn’t the worst. That was reserved for tonight’s officials who seemed to officiate on reputation more than actuality, and for Kevin Love’s jump shot. But that’s not why the Cavs lost. The inability to focus and effectively defend shooters were the nail in Cleveland’s coffin tonight. It’s about time Cleveland started defending the corner three. Sadly, I can’t play the video from Glengary Glenn Ross that our subtitle references because it’s a profanity laced dressing down of dilatory salesmen. But if I was coaching this team, this is the video I’d make Cleveland’s dilatory defenders watch. Always be closing (out (shooters)).
Let’s be honest. Most Cavalier fans didn’t watch this game very closely. Once Joe Harris got the start for Dion Waiters, fans immediately began to scour the internet for info. Was this another National Anthem thing? Did Blatt decide at the last second to maintain Dion’s 6th Man mentality? Wait, where are Lou and Alex? Is there a Trade!?! When Dion’s cousin began to tweet, things got more interesting away from the hardwood. Check out our emergency pod for more on last night’s craziness. As for the game, I watched this ridiculous affair twice so you didn’t have to. You are welcome.
In what was possibly the most predictable outcome of a game you’ll see all year, the deep, balanced machine that is the Dallas Mavericks made short work of a Cavs team missing its star and still struggling to figure out how to string more than a few good possessions together.
The Mavericks shot 56.4% from the field and 46.2% from three in a game that saw six Dallas players score in double figures, led by Monta Ellis’ 20. The Cavs, meanwhile, managed just 40.7% as a team, but did see Kevin Love continue his recent LeBron-less strong play. Love’s 30 points made this his highest scoring game as a Cavalier (he also pulled down 10 boards) but no one else on the team was able to make enough of an impact to keep the Cavs within striking distance much past the first quarter. The team cut a 15-point second quarter deficit to 10 at the half, but saw the game quickly get away from them in the third.
Kevin Love scored 27 points on 15 shots, Dion Waiters came alive in spurts, and the Cavs came back from an early double-digit deficit to get a gritty road win against the struggling Hornets. They shrugged off a terrible shooting night from Kyrie Irving (8-27) and survived a take-your-breath-away scare when Kevin Love’s knee seemed to buckle early in the third quarter. Both teams shot horribly, but the Cavs took care of the ball and the Hornets didn’t. The Cavs scored 23 points off turnovers and only coughed up seven points – more than enough to account for the diff.
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @cadavalier.
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