I am tempted to follow Justin's advice, and simply leave this here.
GAME RECAP: pic.twitter.com/pW9Vuhkxzh— Justin Rowan (@Cavsanada) December 6, 2014
And frankly, this picture sums it up. A night after few Cavaliers played well outside of Kyrie Irving, tonight's game saw positives from just about everyone who got in the game. James Jones hit a few big threes for gosh sakes. The game ended with Kyrie Irving swatting Kyle Lowry and Tristan Thompson finishing uncontested dunks.
It was an entertaining game, and various Cavaliers stepped at various points. In the second quarter James Jones provided a spark. In the third quarter, Kyrie Irving imposed his will on the game. Dion Waiters broke down the Raptors defense and handed out a few nice assists in the second quarter. In the 4th quarter, with the Cavaliers searching for an energy source, it was Tristan Thompson.
Consistent throughout, though, was LeBron James. He was phenomenal. 24 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. He was a calming force and showed his best chemistry with Tristan Thompson that we've seen thus far. When he plays like this, it's going to be really difficult to beat the Cavaliers.
What Tristan Thompson did was really remarkable, though. He missed defensive rebounding opportunities in the first half, and there were reasonable questions being raised. He was bad in New York last night. When Anderson Varejao left the game early in the 3rd quarter with foul trouble though, you knew the team would call on Thompson. You didn't know how he'd respond. He was active defensively, though he's still learning on that end. 21 points on 13 shots, 14 rebounds, two assists and zero turnovers doesn't lie. He had the team's best on/off court metric and if you saw the fourth quarter you know why.
Kyrie Irving has been remarkable this season, and tonight wasn't much different, even if he wasn't as efficient as he's been in the past. You could tell he took his matchup with Kyle Lowry personal: this year, they've probably been the East's top point guards (I love John Wall, but dude has to get those shooting numbers up). But he did have 15 points, was more than willing to play off the ball, handed out six assists to just one turnover, and came up with hustle play after hustle play. In the fourth quarter, Lowry repeatedly took the offense in his own hands, and Irving's defense was on point.
Another Cavalier who made his mark defensively: Kevin Love. Amir Johnson had his way with the Cavs frontline for much of the night, but Jonas Valanciunas was largely quiet. Love checked him for much of the night. His 13 defensive rebounds were incredible important for a team that needed every one of them. Don't be fooled by the score, this game was hard fought until the last two minutes.
What does this win mean for the Cavaliers? Hard to know in the grand scheme, but going into Toronto, a tough place to win, and doing just that is certainly nice. The team is now 11-7. There've been rough spots, and there'll be more rough spots. That's okay. It's good to see the team defend, it's good to see LeBron James dominate, and it's good to see young guys like Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson accept roles and do well, different as they may be.