Anthony Davis played just seven minutes before suffering a chest injury that kept him out for the rest of the game. LeBron James scored 41 points on 24 shots. Despite all of that, the New Orleans Pelicans found a way to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 119-114. And the game wasn't as close as the final score might suggest.
Due to a combination of the Pelicans' hot shooting and the Cavs' struggles on defense, New Orleans took a big lead in the third quarter and Cleveland wasn't able to fight all the way back. Ryan Anderson led the way for the Pelicans, hitting eight threes and finishing with 30 points. (You may recall that Anderson also hit eight threes when the Pelicans visited Cleveland earlier this season. I'm glad the Cavs don't have to see that guy again.) Tyreke Evans had 31 points and 10 assists.
In a losing effort, LeBron had one of his best games of the season, at least offensively. He scored 41 points on 17-24 shooting, with five rebounds and five assists. Kevin Love had 21 points and seven boards. Kyrie Irving didn't score at all in the entire first half, but he somehow finished with 17 points and seven assists.
Dion Waiters only played 10 minutes in this game because he reportedly went to the hospital to have some abdominal pain checked out.
After winning eight in a row, the Cavs have now lost two in a row to fall to 13-9 on the season. They'll be back in action on Monday night at home against the Hornets.
I have a few quick thoughts:
- There is an optimistic way to look at this. It was their fourth game in five nights (three of those games were on the road). The Pelicans are a .500 team in the West, meaning that they're good. The Cavs' defense wasn't great, but part of that was just the Pelicans hitting everything. So maybe this wasn't a terrible loss. That's not actually all that optimistic, I guess, but what I'm saying is that there's no reason to be overly upset right now.
- Still, I actually do think this was a pretty bad loss. It was their fourth game in five nights, but LeBron was certainly rested, and they wasted a nice game from him. The Pelicans didn't have Davis, and yet the game wasn't close for most of the second half. For as solid as the Cavs started to look the last couple of weeks, they clearly still have a long way to go to get to where they're expected to be.
- Hopefully Dion's injury isn't serious. It seemed like he was maybe starting to figure some things out.
- Matthew Dellavedova did not have his best night. He went 0-5 from the floor and was -17 in 24 minutes.
- I think all of the talk about LeBron being past his peak or not being the same guy athletically anymore is kind of silly. I mean, he's probably not the same guy now that he was when he was 24. That can be both a good thing and bad thing. He's not quite as spry as he used to be, but he's definitely smarter and more skilled than he was back then. I'd still take him over any player in the league, and it's not that close.
- Lastly, this team is clearly still figuring out how to play with each other. It's going to take time. I knew that it would take time. And yet here I am, getting frustrated that it is taking so much time. I guess that's part of being a fan. Oh well. They'll get there eventually, I'm sure of that.