Random dribbles following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 116-111 win over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, the Cavs’ 11th straight victory.
1. This game was over. Then it wasn’t. Then LeBron James saved the day. When it comes to these Cavs, none of that is necessarily a huge surprise — because that’s what they’ve been doing all season.
2. In other words, the Cavs have gone from looking lost and hoping LeBron can take over, to giving just enough effort and letting LeBron do the rest.
3. It’s not always the best plan, but it sure has been working lately.
4. How was the game over? Well, the Cavs led 91-72 late in the third quarter.
5. How was it not over? Well, Memphis tied it at 109-all with 2:10 left in the game, courtesy of a 3-pointer from Grizzlies rookie Dillon Brooks.
6. How did James take over? Well, like he so often does. On this night, he drove, scored and got fouled, making the free throw for a three-point play. A little later, he buried a step-back jumper from the top of the key. Game, set, winning streak intact.
7. Dwyane Wade to reporters on LeBron: “You just shake your head. It’s impressive, man. When you’re on a team and you have a guy when the game gets close and you can get him the ball and he comes through, maybe not all the time but it seems like every time … we know he’s going to make the right play.”
8. LeBron on LeBron: “When it’s winning time in the fourth quarter, my teammates want me to step up and do what I do best.”
9. James finished with 34 points and 12 assists, and went 8-of-8 on free throws. Like all of the Cavs, he wasn’t always locked in when a blowout was in order. But like all of the Cavs, he’s been finding a way when it feels like the wheels are starting to come off.
10. Kevin Love gave another strong showing with another double-double, compiling 20 points and 11 boards. J.R. Smith added 17 underrated points on 6-of-8 shooting (including 4-of-5 on threes). Wade scored 16 off the bench.
11. You really can’t ask more from the Cavs right now. Unless, of course, you asked them to finish a job and just blow out someone for once. But hey, let’s face it. That’s not really their style.
12. As Charlotte forward Marvin Williams noted last week, “That’s the way Cleveland plays. They’re a battle-tested team with those guys. That’s why they’ve been to the Finals three straight years and LeBron has been there seven straight years.”
13. The Cavs (16-7) have scored at least 100 points during each of the past 11, and can tie their longest winning streak since 2015 with a win Monday at Chicago. After that, they get the Sacramento Kings at home.
14. Meanwhile, the poor Grizzlies (7-15) have lost 11 straight and are entirely falling apart. They lost eight straight, fired coach David Fizdale, then dropped three more. It probably doesn’t help that point guard Mike Conley has missed nine in a row with a sore Achilles.
15. By the way, in case you missed it, James called Wade the early frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year.
16. Jeff Green (nine points), Kyle Korver (also nine) and Channing Frye also continue to perform well in reserve. Frye dislocated his right middle finger during the game. It is not considered serious and he is expected to be OK to play Monday.
17. Finally, the latest report says Derrick Rose would like to return to the Cavs, after spending some time contemplating his future. It will be interesting to see what the Cavs decide to do with Rose. His return could come at about the same time as Isaiah Thomas’ Cleveland debut. Translation: Rose had better prove he’s a great fit upon return, or this could be the end.