Wrap-Up — Now it just seems like last week’s three-game losing streak just made the Cavaliers mad.
The Wine and Gold won their third straight – the last two, including Friday night’s drubbing – by an average of 31 points, jumping all over a shorthanded Heat squad early and rolling to the 114-84 victory in an “80s Night” blowout at The Q.
As has been the case all year, the Big Three were almost unstoppable, combining for 78 points before Coach Lue pulled his power troika midway through the fourth quarter with a matchup against a tough Hornets team on tap tomorrow night in Cleveland.
Facing a banged-up Heat squad playing without Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters, the Wine and Gold wasted little time – running out to an 11-point edge at intermission and extending their lead methodically throughout the second stanza.
Kevin Love stayed red-hot – leading both teams with 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting and 15 boards, adding three assists, a steal and blocked shot. Over Cleveland’s three-game run, the three-time All-Star is averaging 25.6 points and 11.0 boards per. It was Love’s team-leading 14th double-double and his eighth 20-10 game of the season.
LeBron James eclipsed another historical milestone – passing Elvin Hayes and moving into 9th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 27th and final points of the game. Overall, the four-time MVP went 12-of-22 from the floor to go with eight boards, a game-high assist and three steals.
Kyrie Irving notched his 12th straight game of at least 20 points – finishing with 23 on 9-for-15 shooting, including 2-of-4 from long-distance, to go with three helpers in Friday night’s win.
Iman Shumpert was the only other Cavalier in double-figures – adding 10 points off the bench, going 4-for-8 from the floor, 2-of-4 from long-distance.
The Wine and Gold were excellent on both ends in Friday’s one-sided win. They shot a season-high 55 percent from the floor while holding Miami to 34 percent shooting – restricting them to 15 points in the fourth quarter on 4-for-24 shooting.
The Wine & Gold win their third straight with the blowout victory against the Heat.
Cleveland also blocked a season-high nine shots – including three by DeAndre Liggins, who got his second straight start in place of J.R. Smith, who’s still nursing a hyperextended left knee suffered on Monday night in Toronto.
Turning Point — The Cavaliers didn’t exactly go wire-to-wire as they did two nights ago in New York, but the Heat didn’t lead long on Friday – jumping out to a 2-0 lead on Hassan Whiteside’s turnaround jumper.
That was about as good as it would get for Eric Spoelstra’s squad – which scrapped hard during the first quarter and forced seven lead-changes. But the Wine and Gold began cooking immediately after intermission, using an 11-4 run to give themselves some breathing space and simply wearing down Miami the rest of the way.
By the Numbers – 93-31 | 53-12 | 14-2 … Cleveland’s record, respectively, when the Big Three play together (including postseason), their mark when the combo combines for 60-plus points and their record when Kyrie, LeBron and Kevin Love each net over 20 points.
Quotable – LeBron James, on Kevin Love’s stellar play this season …
”It’s the Kevin Love of old, and this is everything we expected out of him. It’s what we want out of him. But it’s no added pressure for him. He’s going out and just playing his game right now. He’s shooting the ball extremely well, he’s rebounding at a high clip and he’s at a point where he’s just comfortable with everything.”
Up Next — The Cavaliers will look to make it four straight when they welcome Kemba Walker and the Hornets to Cleveland for the second half of their weekend back-to-back on Saturday night at The Q. Following that matchup, it’s a mid-week home-and-home back-to-back against the Grizzlies – with David Fizdale’s squad making their lone visit on Tuesday night and the Cavaliers traveling to the Grindhouse for a Wednesday night affair.
Sounds of the Game