It wasn’t pretty, but the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their league-leading winning streak to seven in a row with a 100-99 win against the Charlotte Hornets.
LeBron James was sensational, leading the Cavs with 27 points, 16 rebounds, and 13 assists. While the team had a uneven effort throughout the night, LeBron came on strong to close out the game and provided some of his best defense of the season locking down Kemba Walker during the game’s deciding moments.
The Hornets beat up the Cavs throughout the night on the glass, gaining a 53-41 advantage on the night. Dwight Howard lead the way for Charlotte with 20 points and 13 rebounds, as he took full advantage of a Cavs roster that’s missing a true center.
Defense was the story of the night, as the team managed to make up for the extra possessions that were gifted to the Hornets on the offensive glass with some of the team’s best defensive effort. The Cavs were clearly engaged, as they called out rotations and were able to get their hands into passing lanes.
The Cavs also benefited from some luck at the free throw line, as the Hornets missed enough free throws down the stretch to keep the door open for Cleveland.
Cleveland will try to extend it’s winning streak to eight as they take on Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
- J.R Smith came through with one of his best performances of the season, pouring in 15 points on 6-13 shooting. While it wasn’t one of his best shooting nights, the shots he hit seemed to help get him engaged on the defensive end and help provide the Cavs with the crucial shots they needed. When Smith is locked in, he is one of the team’s most effective perimeter defenders.
- The Cavs did a great job limiting Kemba Walker to just 15 points and eight assists on 6-15 shooting. Throughout the Cavs lowest moments of this season, the team typically was roasted by opposing guards. While Jose Calderon will never be mistaken for a lock-down defender, he seems to stay in position defensively and with Smith engaged, the Cavs porous defense is showing signs of positive growth.
- Speaking of positive signs, Jae Crowder had yet another postive performance as he becomes more comfortable with his role. Over his last five games he is averaging 11.6 points on 42.6 percent from both the field and behind the arc.
- Once again, the bench lineup gave the Cavs a breath of life in a game where they were stagnant. Dwyane Wade’s ability to run the second unit has been a huge part of the team’s success over this winning streak.