With four injuries to the roster and their bench depleted for the moment, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to get the most out of their starting lineup as they could.
Thanks to a hot second quarter from Kevin Love and contributions from J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavs were able to get more than enough out of their starters in their 117-103 route of the Orlando Magic.
The Cavs were able to get to the Magic early, going on a 21-10 run to start the game. After the starters began to come out and the bench transitioning into the game, the Magic slowly started to take control of the game.
When Love was subbed out of the game with 2:30 left in the first quarter, the Cavs lead by five. When he re-entered the game with 8:45 left in the second quarter, the Cavs trailed by six.
The Cavs immediately went to Love in the post. On his first possession he managed to get inside on Nikola Vucevic and hit right hook over him. From there he started to extend his game. On the the next position, Love did his best Dirk Nowitski imitation, hitting one-legged fadeaway over Tobias Harris. This would only be the beginning of his second quarter hot streak.
After a missed jumper on the following possession, Dellavedova found Love at the top or the three-point line, where he would connect on the jumper. The next possession? Another three-pointer, this time on the left wing. Then, with his heat check meter almost at full capacity, he hit his third consecutive three-pointer, this one coming off of a LeBron James baseline pass to Love in the corner.
Finally, with the Cavs up by one with just under 30 seconds left in the the second quarter, Love hit his fourth consecutive three-pointer of the quarter and giving the Cavs a four-point lead heading into halftime and himself 20 points for the quarter.
From there, the Cavs would come out of the second half with a 30-17 run in the third quarter to break the game open, then coasted through the fourth quarter to secure their third straight win.
Whereas neither of the other starters put on a scoring effort like Love, who finished with 34 points, they still contributed in a big way. Smith finished with 26 points on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting, including hitting 6-of-his-10 three-point attempts. Dellavedova again filled in nicely for Mo Williams and Kyrie Irving, scoring 15 points and dishing out nine assists with no turnovers. Tristan Thompson only had nine points, but did finish with a game-high 14 rebounds.
As for LeBron, he did most of hi damage in the passing game, which was fitting for tonight. On his fifth assist of the night, LeBron passed Norm Nixon for 25th all-time for total assists, making him only the second player in NBA history to be in the top 25 in both points and assists, joining Oscar Robertson. For the night LeBron would finish with 13 assists.
This was easily Love's best game as a Cavalier. He was able to work inside to outside, hooking hook shots and three-pointers at the same rate. Tonight, when the Cavs needed offense, Love showed what can happen when he finally hits those open shots he had been missing to start the season.