CLEVELAND — Random dribbles from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 101-95 win over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
1. This may have been closer than expected, but the vibe in the locker room afterward indicated there was never really a moment of doubt. The Cavs have a bonafide champion and go-to man in LeBron James and the Kings have nothing of the sort.
2. That’s not necessarily a shot at the Kings, either. They have some nice young pieces, and older veterans such as Zach Randolph still play hard. But when it comes to winning time, few earn their money like LeBron.
3. Same is often true of the likes of Dwyane Wade and these days, Kevin Love (though Wade struggled Wednesday). Basically, the Cavs’ understand how to play off James and let him deliver when the time is right. So it’s no big shock when they shut down and ultimately overtake a team such as the Kings.
4. Wade on the win: “We could tell early it was just gonna be one of those ugly games for us. When you’re on a streak like we’re on, you’re going to have these, especially during an 82-game season. What you gotta do is find a way to win the game.”
5. That the Cavaliers did behind some fourth-quarter fireworks from James and Kyle Korver. James buried a shot with 16.6 seconds left, a step-back 3-pointer that extended the Cavs’ lead to five. Miss the shot, and the Kings have hope. Make it, and that’s that. James did the latter, pounding his chest after he ball completed its journey through the net.
6. In the end, James went for 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He reasonably could’ve had 12 or 13 assists had some of his teammates not been robbed on wide-open looks.
7. Korver finished with 15 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Afterward, both James and Wade praised Korver for his relentless work to get open.
8. James on Korver: “When you’re feeling sluggish, it’s guys like Kyle Korver who can help you get out of it. He’s always moving, and his energy can be given off to everyone else. We definitely needed that from him tonight.”
9. You can read more about what James, Korver and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said about the win, in my game recap right here.
10. Oh by the way, the Cavs (18-7) have won 13 straight. You hopefully already knew that. You probably also know that if the Cavs win Friday at Indiana, they will have set the franchise record for consecutive victories. As Korver said in uttering unquestionably the line of the night, “It feels a lot better than a month ago, that’s for sure.”
11. Love scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and if it weren’t for the play of James, everyone would be raving about Love. He suddenly looks like All-Star Game material. Jeff Green added 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting off the bench.
12. Before the game, most of the news centered around point guard Isaiah Thomas, who played a game of 4-on-4 in front of the media at shootaround. Lue told reporters that Thomas took some contact and held up well. (Details here.)
13. Reporters played a guessing game in the media room as to when Thomas may actually make his Cavs debut. One suggested Dec. 14 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers at home. Most predicted Christmas Day at Golden State. Some said it will be two days after that at Sacramento. That last one was actually my guess — but right now they truly are guesses, as the Cavs have not dropped many hints.
14. Meanwhile, Cavs center Tristan Thompson could return as soon as Friday. It will be interesting to see where he gets minutes. He’s not going to start, and the Cavs sure can’t afford to sit Channing Frye, who has been very reliable during the winning streak.
15. Finally, Derrick Rose was back in the arena, as Lue said Rose addressed his teammates before shootaround. ESPN reported Rose apologized for taking some time away after injuring his ankle. After Wednesday’s win, Rose exited the building wearing a red hoodie and a smile, walking and talking quietly with assistant coach James Posey. Rose’s return date, of course, remains a mystery.