NBA scores 2014: The Cavs are finding their stride and 3 other things we learned Friday night.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have won six straight after a big win in Toronto, plus three other things we learned Friday night.
What a difference a few weeks make. On Nov. 22, the Raptors embarrassed the Cavs, 110-93, in Cleveland. It was the Cavs’ fourth straight loss and dropped them to 5-7. LeBron James was worried, saying, “It’s not even the lowest it’s going to get for us.” It appears that he was wrong.
The Cavs handled the Raptors in Toronto on Friday night, 105-91, to win their sixth straight. They haven’t lost since the 17-point drubbing on Nov. 22. And at 11-7, they’re just three games back of Toronto for the top spot in the East.
James was brilliant, scoring 24 points, dishing out 13 assists and grabbing seven rebounds to lead Cleveland. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving did their part as well. Love had 15 points and 13 rebounds while Irving had 15 points and six assists. Tristan Thompson was huge off the bench, contributing 21 points and 14 rebounds.
In the Nov. 22 matchup, Toronto got off to a slow start — they were down by 18 points in the first quarter — but stormed back and then some. The Raptors got off to a slow start again on Friday, but didn’t have the magic of the first meeting. They grabbed the lead at 58-57 early in the third quarter, but the Cavs responded with a 16-2 run. Then they pulled to within six with 5:46 to play, but James and Thompson took over down the stretch and the Cavs pulled away for a 14-point win.
It was a big win for Cleveland, who also took out Washington in this six-game winning streak. Currently, the top four teams in the East, according to records, are the Raptors, Wizards, Hawks and Bulls. The Cavs, currently fifth, are now 4-2 against those squads.
Meanwhile, the Raptors are have lost three of five since a six-game winning streak of their own. Leading scorer DeMar DeRozan tore his adductor tendon in a loss to the Mavs that started the current five-game slump. The Raptors haven’t been the same since. DeRozan is hoping to return at the end of December. It won’t be in time for the next matchup against Cleveland on Dec. 9.
Meanwhile, the Cavs have found their stride and are playing the way they were expected to all along. James was wrong, the Cavs do appear to have reached their nadir. Now they’ve turned it around and are cementing themselves as the team to beat in the East.
3 other things we learned
Things are evening out in the West. After a slow start from the Spurs and the strong starts from the Grizzlies and Warriors — not to mention the Pelicans and the Kings — the West appeared to be a different beast this season. But things are getting back to normal. Tim Duncan became the second oldest player in league history, behind Karl Malone, to record a triple double (14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) and the Spurs shot 56 percent from behind the arc as San Antonio beat the Grizzlies in Memphis. It’s the Grizzlies’ first losing streak of the season, and now the Spurs are just one game behind them. Things are getting back to normal, except for that no one knows how to beat Golden State…
John Wall is having a heck of a week — and year. In just 28 minutes in a dominating 30-point win against the Nuggets, Wall had nine points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and two blocks (one of which was monstrous). He’s the clear leader of this Wizards team, who thrive off the energy Wall brings to the court. It was a nice cap to a week where he averaged 13.3 assists per game in three Washington wins. He’s third in the league with 9.8 assists per game this season. Plus, he had one of the greatest four-point plays of the season, complete with a shimmy.
At some point, Giannis Antetokounmpo highlights are going to get boring, but not yet. The Bucks remain one of the most fun teams in the league. They put on a show once again — mostly thanks to Antetokounmpo — in a dismantling of the Heat, 109-85. At 11-10, the Bucks have the sixth best record in the East. Against the Heat, they used a balanced attack; six players scored in double figures. Antetokounmpo had 14 points, and most of them came in how-did-that-happen? fashion. This dunk over Chris Bosh is just ridiculous, and his Euro-step game was once again on point. So on point that no one really knows what to call a travel anymore.
Play of the night
First, Kemba Walker had an incredible come from behind block on Jose Calderon, then he won the game for the Hornets and made Carmello Anthony sad.
5 fun things
Someone was yelling, “Hawk,” in the Wizards-Nuggets game, Mike Prada gives us a lesson in NBA offenses and explains why.
It was a night of game-winning shots: Carl Landry did it for the Kings.
Hornets 103, Knicks 102 (At the Hive recap | Posting and Toasting recap)
Thunder 103, 76ers 91 (Welcome to Loud City recap | Liberty Ballers recap)
Wizards 119, Nuggets 89 (Bullets Forever recap | Denver Stiffs recap)
Cavaliers 105, Raptors 91 (Fear the Sword recap | Raptors HQ recap)
Celtics 113, Lakers 96 (Celtics Blog recap | Silver Screen and Roll recap)
Hawks 98, Nets 75 (Peach Tree Hoops recap | Nets Daily recap)
Spurs 107, Grizzlies 101 (Pounding the Rock recap | Grizzly Bear Blues recap)
Rockets 114, Timberwolves 112 (The Dream Shake recap | Canis Hoopus recap)
Bucks 109, Heat 85 (Brew Hoop recap | Hot Hot Hoops recap)
Suns 118, Mavericks 106 (Bright Side of the Sun recap | Mavs Money Ball recap)
Magic 98, Jazz 93 (Orlando Pinned Stripe Post recap | SLC Dunk recap)
Kings 102, Pacers 101 (Sactown Royalty recap | Indy Corn Rows recap)