The Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from a bout of poor shooting in Atlanta with a hot hand at home against Charlotte Hornets that could only be described as "lit." The Cavaliers shot just 34% from the field, including 5-of-19 from three-point range, in the second half and overtime of Friday's win against the Atlanta Hawks. Sunday afternoon was a different story, the team came out hot, 72.2% from the field, running out to a 29-19 lead. And the Cavs did not look back (for the most part) leading by as many as 21 points en route to an 112-103 win.
The Cavs completed 16-of-29 three-point attempts, shooting 55.2% from behind the arc and 54.2% from the field. LeBron James led the team with 31 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds. He also led the team with 40 of 48 minutes. The high-minutes was partly due to the team playing without a key ball-handler, Kyrie Irving ,who missed his 28th game of the season after spraining his ankle in Atlanta. But for a team, trying to gear up for another playoff run, and just two weeks remaining in the regular season, finding ways to win without so many minutes for James would be beneficial.
Despite Irving sitting out, James did have help late from J.R. Smith and Kevin Love. Smith scored back-to-back layups in the final minute of play on a floor-length assist from Kevin Love and another from James, shooting six-of-nine on three-point attempts, good for 27 points and five rebounds. Love added on 25 points, five-of-eight from the three-point line, and nine rebounds. It's a positive sign for a team that has struggled to shoot consistently in the second half of the season.
The Hornets kept the game close late, cutting the lead to four with four minutes remaining, before the Cavaliers went on an 8-2 run, capitalized by a corner three from Love. Kemba Walker had 21 of his team-high 29 points in the second half, along with seven assists and six rebounds. And the Hornets found meaningful minutes from Marvin Williams, who added 22 points, six rebounds, and a screen that sent Kevin Love soaring in the first half. Add in 10 fourth quarter points from Jeremy Lin, 6-of-13 free throw shooting for the Cavaliers, and 17 turnovers and you can start to see how the Hornets almost called it a comeback.
Before the team gets too excited for the victory over an Eastern Conference adversary, it should be noted the Hornets were without key offensive players. Center Al Jefferson sat with a quad injury and Nic Batum missed the second half after suffering a strained knee.
The Cavaliers close out the series with the Hornets, 3-1. At 55-22, the team is now 3 1/2 games ahead of the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Eastern Conference. This is good news, considering the Cavs are 31-7 at home this season. They'll travel to Milwaukee for a match up with the Bucks on Tuesday. And for those still hoping, 60 wins is still in the picture. With just five games remaining, the Cavaliers could join the Spurs and Warriors in the 60 win club. Three teams with 60 win seasons would something of a rarity.