This was a game the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted. After a tremendous start that saw the team build a 21-0 lead to start the game, it seemed like the rout was on. The Hornets didn't fold, and indeed got back in the game in the second quarter. LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving each saw to it that this game would have a happy ending.
David Blatt rode the starters hard in this one, and is still searching for answers from his bench. The second quarter started without any of the Cavaliers big three on the court, and Joe Harris saw extended run while Shawn Marion got an extended rest. Matthew Dellavedova is sick and was limited to 12 minutes. Dion Waiters played 24 minutes and didn't shoot well but had some moments defensively. He did a nice job facilitating at times.
First and foremost, this was a great game for Kevin Love and LeBron James. James had 27 points on 19 shots, 13 assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and five turnovers. He established the tone early offensively as a distributor. He defended well. He expended a lot of energy and looked healthy doing it. Love was active in the second half defensively, and phenomenal in the first half offensively. He had 22 points on 14 shots, 18 rebounds, five assists, four steals. I mean, that's just great. He's an all-world player and the Cavaliers are tough to beat when these two guys play at this level.
After the game, Blatt praised Love's defense. "I thought Kevin played a great all-around game tonight, on both ends of the court ... I just thought the guy played a great all-around basketball game." Blatt also made a point to praise Anderson Varejao's defense on Al Jefferson. Tristan Thompson checked in early in the third quarter, but Blatt said that was actually a move to get the offense going. Whatever the motivation, it worked on both ends. Thompson ended up with 10 points on six shots and five rebounds. He was incredibly active and challenged shots. The Cavaliers went on a run and the Hornets never seriously challenged again.
It was an understated game from Kyrie Irving, but he was very good. He made several hustle plays, and it seemed like Kemba Walker waited to attack until Irving went to the bench for small stretches. He was efficient with his offense for most of the game, though his statline is fairly pedestrian. He was more than content to let LeBron James and Kevin Love dominate the game for stretches, but also let the Hornets know that they needed to account for him.
The Hornets are not a good team, right now, and this is a good Cavaliers team taking care of business. That's what needs to happen. The Hawks are hot and healthy and will come in on Wednesday night looking to even up the score from a few weeks ago when the Cavaliers blew them out. It will be interesting to see how Cleveland responds to that challenge.