Cleveland Cavaliers 116
Orlando Magic 104
Granted, it was against the Orlando Magic, a team Cleveland has dominated for much of the 20-teens, but the Cavs got some much-needed production from players not named LeBron James or Kyrie Irving. One game after the two stars were forced to carry much of the load, and the win slipping from their grips as James sat for a stretch in the fourth quarter, the wine and gold received double-digit scoring from several role players including 38 points from the bench. Iman Shumpert chipped in. J.R. Smith chipped in. Channing Frye continued to drop his standard 12 points a night, still coming off the bench behind Richard Jefferson.
“We’re going to need everyone,” Ty Lue said following the game. “It’s a process. Good to see J.R. back, hitting some shots. There are going to be ups and downs, but we’ll figure it out.”
In all, seven players were in double figures. They did a better job moving the ball, notching 30 assists on 43 made field goals. They did a much better job of defending the three-point line, with Orlando sinking just four threes over the course of the night. The Cavs were up by just six points with a little less than six minutes to go in this one, but went on to outscore the Magic 16-10 over the home stretch large in part to that two-point guard, super small lineup to close things out.
James played 39 minutes and Irving played 36. When asked about how he would approach the next game, Lue said he had not decided as of yet.
16: The Cavaliers, with Saturday night’s win, extended their winning streak to 16 games in a row, the longest against any opponent. Some is a testament to how good the Cleveland Cavaliers are. But when you consider this streak going back to games when Mo Speights and Wayne Ellington were combining for 32 off of the bench, and it’s also a testament to how bad the Magic have been.
9: With 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 13 assists, this was LeBron James’ ninth triple-double for the season, the second time this season he’s had back-to-back games with triple-doubles (January). A night after being 9-of-10 in the paint against Detroit, James was 8-of-14 from the floor in this one, and he made sure to let folks know he’s not getting by on volume (*Cough* James Harden). “I always try to turn it up after the All-Star break,” said James after the game. “The best part is I’m very efficient. I was able to have a triple-double on 14 shots which means my teammates are getting involved.”
He wasn’t lying. Lots of ball movement. A slew of assists. Check out a sliver of the action here.
37: The sum of Kyrie Irving’s 22 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. To put up this kind of line and still be the sub-sub-headline speaks to the brilliance of James, but it’s also great to see Irving not falling into the shadows given how productive the rest of his Cavaliers teammates were.
1/29: The date in which Iman Shumpert scored double-digit points for the Cavaliers for the last time prior to Saturday night. In this one, he scored 10 of the Cavs’ first 12 points, hitting shots from inside and outside. Finishing the game 3-of-4 from the three-point line, it was a much-needed game from a player who had been captaining the Struggle Bus for much of the last six weeks.
12: Fourth-quarter minutes played by Deron Williams. He played 25 minutes in all, all off the bench, providing the Cavs with a lethal pick-and-roll game that has multiple layers of attack. Williams’ passing skills have always been plus, but his lateral dribbles following rolls allow for more precise angles for him to either dish to the cutter or find himself open near the elbow for uncontested shots. “He’s a playmaker,” said James of Williams, adding that things will only continue to improve through time. “It’s organic. One conversation needs to be had, then it comes to getting reps on the floor.” While 10 points and four assists won’t make the ticker at the bottom of most screens, his work in the final frame was vital in this one turning out the way it did.
11 out of 10: How good it is to see J.R. Smith back. Yes, he was technically back against the Pistons earlier this week, but I think we would all like to forget his 1-for-9 shooting night. On Saturday against Orlando, he was 4-of-8 including three long balls, looking much more like himself in 20 minutes off of the bench.
7 out of 10: My level of worry regarding the news that Kyle Korver had to undergo an MRI for his sore foot. It was news that came out of nowhere during the team’s road trip, and it was his second missed game due to the injury. My north-of-.500 concern isn’t s much that Korver is going to be injured for some extended time, but what it would mean for the team if he were to go the way of any of the other Cavaliers to succumb to injuries this season. The Cavs won’t be playing the Magic in the playofffs, after all.
The second night of the back-to-back concludes Sunday in Houston. 9 p.m. tip. Don’t forget to move those clocks ahead.