It wasn’t easy, but the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to extend their winning streak to 13 games with a 101-96 win over the Sacramento Kings.
The first half was fairly disappointing for the Cavs. Despite strong play from both LeBron James and Kevin Love, the team still wound up down nine points at half. The Kings were winning both the rebounding and turnover battle. In addition to that, they also held a 25-20 advantage in points off the bench. The Cavs have relied heavily on their bench play throughout the winning streak, so on a night where they were less prolific it wasn’t surprising to see the team with a hole they needed to dig out of.
The third quarter mirrored the first half in many ways. The Cavs still lacked energy at times in their approach. The one saving grace was a scoring spree from LeBron to help shave the deficit down to five points.
As the Cavs transitioned to the fourth quarter, the bench came to life. With LeBron sitting, Kyle Korver went bananas with three straight three pointers to give the Cavs a one point lead. While momentum seemed to be swinging their way, the Cavs never seemed to be able to pull away. Frank Mason III was absolutely sensational, getting to the line at will and seemed to hit clutch shot after clutch shot.
At the end of the day, one team had LeBron James and the other did not. LeBron’s playmaking and defense was fantastic down the stretch. He also dealt the Kings their death blow and he converted a step-back three point shot to put Cleveland up five with 20 seconds to go.
- Kevin Love has been exceptional late, averaging 25 points and 12.4 rebounds over his last five games. The most noticeable change in his game has been his increased movement off of the ball. Movement that has been rewarded, as the team is clearly looking to feed him when he gets into position. He struggled with his three point shooting tonight, but really battled on the boards.
- The three point range LeBron is showing this season simply is unfair. By mastering that shot, there is officially nothing he can’t do on the offensive side of the ball. With opponents closing out more aggressively, he is able to blow by them and finish with more ease than usual. The composition of this roster has unlocked a level of play from him that is remarkable for his 15th season.
- It was a rough game for Dwyane Wade, who had 4 points, 6 assists and 3 turnovers, and went 2-6 at the free throw line. He’s been so good lately that it’s hard to hold this performance against him, but his struggles had a lot to do with a lackluster night from the bench.
- Another game, another strong performance from Jeff Green. He has been one of the team’s most effective performers this season and seems to increase the compete-level of everybody he shares the court with. His athleticism is something the team just hasn’t had in recent years and his ability to find holes in the defense leads to many easy opportunities.