Random dribbles following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bounce-back of a 112-89 road win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
1. You know things are going well when John Holland buries a 3-pointer and Ante Zizic hits a floater in the lane.
2. Yeah, those two normally save their best nights for the Canton Charge, but this was a game involving the Cavaliers. And despite it being maddeningly close for much of three quarters, the Cavs turned the final 12 minutes into mostly garbage time.
3. And guess who led the way?
4. If you said Holland or Zizic, you’re wrong.
5. Give up yet? OK, I’ll tell you. His name is LeBron James and he compiled his 11th triple-double of the season with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
6. Eleven triple-doubles in a season. At 33-years old. It’s hard to know what to say about the guy anymore. Actually, it stopped being easy to describe his greatness like seven years ago. The man is simply among the greatest we’ve ever seen. Where does he rank all-time? Who knows, who cares, and when can we watch him play again?
7. As a team, the Cavs (35-23) were much better than Thursday’s disappointing and disjointed home loss to the Washington Wizards. You can’t make excuses, but the Cavs seemed a bit sluggish in their first game following the All-Star break.
8. Plus, as I wrote yesterday, the Cavs are everyone else’s championship. Offering further evidence of that theory was the fact the Wizards left it all on the floor Thursday vs. the Cavs … then returned home Friday and got drilled by the lowly Charlotte Hornets. Happens every time, doesn’t it?
9. Anyway, back to the Cavs. With James leading the way, this was again a team-wide effort in the truest sense.
10. George Hill rebounded from a tough night Thursday to tally 18 points against the Grizzlies. Larry Nance Jr. came off the bench to score 15 points and grab eight rebounds in 27 active minutes. Jordan Clarkson left the game with a gash near his right eye, got some stitches and returned to contribute 14 important points.
10. The fourth newcomer, Rodney Hood, added 10 points — giving the Cavs’ four new faces a combined 57 for the night.
11. LeBron to FOX Sports Ohio on the win: “We’re gonna have to learn on the fly, because we have games basically every other day. So we want to fast-track what we’re trying to do. That means more film sessions, paying attention to detail at our shootarounds, and then getting on the floor and implementing it right away. We won’t shortcut the process, because that’s not what we’re about.”
12. LeBron to FSO on his triple-double: “I’m the leader of this team, and no matter if it’s a back-to-back or third in four nights, I gotta have energy, I gotta have effort and I gotta be in tune with the game plan. I’ve always tried to be a triple threat any time I hit the floor.”
13. Rookie starter Cedi Osman also scored 10 points and played an underrated energy game, and Kyle Korver went for nine off the bench. Just two more examples that the Cavs simply seem to be enjoying themselves more with this new rotation and new brand of basketball.
14. While plenty of skeptics remain, the Cavs are also undoubtedly defending better since the Feb. 8 trades. Unlike before, they at least try for large chunks of the game. Credit coach Tyronn Lue for not letting the new group slip into the old bad habits.
15. Nance Jr. is a big reason for all that. In his four games with the Cavs, he has routinely made a big defensive stop, either blocking a shot, getting his hands on a pass or swiping away a rebound.
16. Nance Jr. on changing the tone of game with D: “I love it. I love it. It gets us moving and running, and whenever you have athletes on the court who can run, getting stops is huge.”
17. Meanwhile, Tyreke Evans and JaMychal Green each scored 15 points to lead the sad-sack Grizzlies (18-39). Evans, who was expected to be traded before the deadline, also passed for 10 assists. Standout center Marc Gasol added 14 points and nine boards. It will be real interesting to see what becomes of this team during the offseason.
18. Clarkson on having to leave with a bloody eye: “It is what it is, it’s part of the game. Just get sewn up and get back out there.”
19. And that, folks, pretty much describes the line of thinking in the locker room these days. The Cavs may get knocked down from time to time, but this new unit believes you cannot keep it down for long. It starts with LeBron, and goes all the way down to the end of the bench with players such as Holland and Zizic. Friday was a perfect example of all it.