The Cavaliers shook off their two-game skid with a 120-108 road win over the Sacramento Kings Friday.
Despite holding a double digit lead for most of the game, the Cavs could not put Sacramento away. Sacramento did not go away easily in the fourth quarter. After an Aaron Afflalo jumper made it an 84-76, Kyle Korver sank a 3-pointer to put the Cavs back up double digits. The Kings responded with a Ty Lawson jump shot to make it 87-77. Then Richard Jefferson hit a triple only to have Rudy Gay answer with a 3-pointer of his own, making it 90-81.
One of the most encouraging things from Friday’s win was how well Korver played. The newly added shooting guard scored 18 points on 7-10 shooting. It seemed that the Cavs began to figure out how to best utilize Korver despite the fact that he has only been with the team for a short period of time.
One possession later, the Kings cut the lead down to 90-83 thanks to another jump shot from Lawson. After a Lawson free throw, Korver knocked down another 3-pointer, and LeBron James followed that up with a layup to make it a 95-86 Cavaliers lead. James only scored 16 points Friday, but he still had a large impact on the game with his 15 assists.
A pair of Channing Frye baskets then bookended a Matt Barnes layup, and Cleveland led 101-88. From that point on, the Cavs and Kings traded baskets, but with Cleveland praying from in front, that did no good for Sacramento.
After two uninspired performances, the Cavs started the game with the sense of urgency that had been lacking over the past week. Kevin Love got things started off by scoring nine of Cleveland’s first 10 points. Shumpert proved to be a strong addition to the starting lineup, knocking down all three of his first quarter 3-point attempts. Though the Cavs shot 50 percent in the first quarter, their defense is what built them their 32-15 lead. Cleveland forced nine Sacramento turnovers in the first 12 minutes while holding the Kings to 26 percent from the floor and 14 percent from deep.
Love finished the game with 15 points and 18 rebounds, and Shumpert put up 16 points on 6-9 shooting.
It briefly looked as though Sacramento had captured the momentum, as it had gotten Cleveland’s lead down to 10 points with five minutes left in the second quarter. However, Kyle Korver knocked down a corner 3-pointer to ignite a 14-4 Cavalier run to build a 59-37 lead. That was highlighted by two Korver midrange jump shots and a Kyrie Irving and-1. Cleveland had a brief lapse towards the end of the quarter. An Irving turnover and a missed contested jumper from LeBron James led to back-to-back Kings baskets.
The Cavs closed the quarter out on a strong note with Irving and Tristan Thompson outhustling DeMarcus Cousins for an offensive rebound that resulted in an Irving put- back to make it 61-43 going into halftime. Irving had a strong performance Friday with 26 points and five assists.
Sacramento shaved the 18-point Cavs lead rather quickly to start the third quarter. By the seven-minute mark, the Kings had the Cavs lead down to 66-58. Much like they did in the second quarter when Sacramento was threatening, the Cavs responded. A Thompson layup and six straight points from Irving had the Cavs lead back up to 74-58 with 5:50 to go in the third. It was clear that the game had developed a pattern. Cleveland would jump out to a comfortable lead, and then Sacramento would respond and cut the lead to between eight and 12 points. So naturally, Sacramento cut the Cavs’ lead to just ten points at 84-74 to close out the third quarter.
Cleveland will be back in action Monday when it takes on Golden State in Oracle Arena.