NBA scores 2014: Cavaliers get revenge on Knicks and 3 other things we learned
Also, the Warriors extend their winning streak to 11 games.
Of course, Cleveland was never supposed to need revenge in the first place; nobody expected the Knicks to spoil LeBron James‘ home opener with the eyes of a nation watching. But James never looked right on that night in October, perhaps because of the emotional nature of the game, and Carmelo Anthony hit clutch shots down the stretch to seal an upset.
Much of Thursday’s game was the same for James — while he did have nine assists at the half, he had scored just eight points on 2-8 shooting, along with a couple plays that looked nothing like the don’t-even-bother-trying-to-stop-him James we’ve seen bully opposing defenses for a decade.
But the Cavaliers refused to let this game play out like opening night. The Knicks — who are just 3-16 since that game — led for most of the second half and all of the fourth quarter until James knocked down a three-pointer with 3:54 left in the game. Moments later, Kyrie Irving knocked the ball loose for an easy breakaway dunk by James.
The two James buckets were both assisted by Irving, his first and second assists of the game. That was the only complaint on an otherwise masterful game — Irving dipped and dived out of the lane with a wide vary of layups, hitting all seven of his shots at the basket and finishing with a season-high 37 points on 12-18 shooting. Plus, in the final seconds, he hit this ridiculous left-handed layup to put the Cavaliers up three with 10 seconds to go.
James’ 19 points on 7-17 shooting still felt underwhelming because our expectations for the reigning best player of the league are so high. The Cavaliers still have a ways to go, too. Kevin Love still felt like an afterthought in Cleveland’s offense, scoring 11 points on 4-11 shooting. Their bench was nearly nonexistent, only scoring eight points total.
But in the largely noncompetitive Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers still have plenty of time to work things out. This time, they didn’t lose to the Knicks. Progress!
3 other things we learned
Forget stopping them — who can even slow down the Warriors? Eleven straight wins. 16-2 on the season. On Thursday, the Warriors waltzed on by New Orleans 112-85 almost as if they weren’t even there. Most NBA offenses are constructed around a particular strength, but Golden State’s wish is only that they have no weaknesses. When so many different players can all pass, handle the ball, drive the lane and shoot, it’s no wonder that the offense comes so easy. When all those players can do that and play passable to elite defense? That’s why the Warriors are currently the best team in the NBA and show no signs of slowing down.
Anthony Davis can’t save the Pelicans. His line was incredible: 30 points, 14-19 shooting, 15 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, three steals, only two turnovers. You can’t ask for anything more from a single player, and Davis is doing this nearly every night. But the rest of the Pelicans shot 32.8 percent and committed 15 turnovers, leaving Davis with the impossible task of doing everything for this team. We’re going to appreciate Davis’ ascension to the best player in the NBA regardless, but it’d be nice if his team was a little more competitive along the way.
— Erik Malinowski (@erikmal) December 4, 2014
Portland finishes strong in low-scoring affair. Nobody was pleased with the first half; not the players, not the coaches, not the people watching. The Blazers led heading into halftime, but it was an ugly 38-33 lead with both teams shooting under 37 percent and combining for 21 turnovers. But Damian Lillard scored 13 second half points to finish with 23 overall to close the door on a surprisingly annoying Pacers team.
Plays of the Night
This portion is usually just one play, but how can you choose between these two? Even more frightening is that Davis goes from throwing down dunks like these to hitting one-dribble pull-up jumpers. That’s just not fair.
4 fun things
LeBron James was having a bad game, but he checked the stats page lying around just to be sure.
More serious than fun: Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith talk more about their comments on Ferguson.
Warriors 112, Pelicans 85 (Golden State of Mind recap | The Bird Writes recap)