Down six at the half, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a scoring spark. Early in the third, Kevin Love went down to the ground in pain underneath the Charlotte Hornets basket after a turnover. He looked to be in considerable pain, grabbing one of his knees. After a television timeout, Kevin Love stayed in the game.
And hit three three-pointers in a row.
Dion Waiters had been bad in the first half, but put together a great third quarter to pick up Love. Tristan Thompson secured offensive rebounds and dunked follow up attempts. The Cavs outscored the Hornets 32-18 in the third quarter. It wasn't pretty from there, but the Cavaliers held on and got a hard-fought road win.
There was Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters hero ball, and it didn't go well. But both played hard defensively, and were joined with positive performances on that end by Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova. Irving and Waiters combined for 39 points on 48 shots. That's not good. But the ball found it's way into Love's hands with 25 seconds and the Cavs clinging to a three point lead. Love hit a turnaround fadeaway coming off a screen. It was pretty fantastic and it put the game mostly out of reach.
The stars of this one were the Cavs frontcourt in Love and Thompson. Combining to play 81 minutes, Love provided the scoring and Thompson the defense and rebounding. Love had 27 points on 15 shots, sprinkling in five rebounds. Thompson had 14 points on 10 shots, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked three shots. Watching Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thompson go back and forth with energy was a fun game within the game to watch.
The Hornets struggle to score, but the Cavs were particularly effective. Kemba Walker shot just 4-16 from the field. Gerald Henderson just 6-17. There was energy from just about everyone. Waiters and Irving combined for eight steals and anytime a guard got penetration Thompson was waiting. The Cavs are asking for big minutes from a few guys. It'll be interesting to see if they can maintain this sort of effort.