Random dribbles on the Cavaliers’ win over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
1. It may be hard for the Cavs to take nights like this seriously, and if so, you can’t blame them.
2. The Lakers were coming off a win the night before in Philadelphia. The Cavs got extra rest. The Lakers were without D’Angelo Russell, perhaps their biggest threat. The Cavs had LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love — all together again.
3. The list of why this should have been easy goes on and on. I haven’t even mentioned the Cavs were at home. But it wasn’t easy. For most of the night, it was close. At least, it was until the Cavs closed the game on a 10-3 run.
4. So forgive the Cavs if they took the Lakers a little lightly. And admire the Lakers for playing off their rear ends for most of this season. They aren’t very good defensively, but they are young and they do play a disciplined brand of basketball. That’s really saying something when you’re a team with Nick Young.
5. Lakers coach Luke Walton arrived from Golden State before the season, and brought most of the Warriors’ offensive principles with him. The Lakers aren’t a finished product, but they could again be a force in a few years. Along with Russell, they have some nice starting block with the likes of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and several others.
6. And if Young keeps scoring 32 points like he did Saturday, the Lakers may actually be able to get something for him in a trade.
7. Anyway, back to the Cavs. They were supposed to win and they did. That puts their record at 19-6. Last season, they were 18-7 after 25 games. But David Blatt had yet to be fired and they still seemed sort of clunky.
8. Two years ago, the season of LeBron’s return, the Cavs started 15-10. They still made it to the finals, despite an early injury to James and lots of drama surrounding Blatt, Love and the rest of the team.
9. Records aside, today’s Cavs just have a different feel under Tyronn Lue. They are off to better start than even the championship season. It may be the best start in franchise history in terms of cohesiveness and the general belief that they can win every game. I’m not so sure that’s always been the case, at least not in the regular season, in this era of LeBron, The Second Coming.
10. Yes, the Cavs are still looking for ways to improve the roster. They still want (and plan) to add another backup point guard, and now that Chris “Birdman” Andersen is out, another big man. But because of their salary situation, they will have to get creative.
11. Of course, that’s never really been a problem for Cavs general manager David Griffin.
12. But no, don’t expect the Cavs to land someone as gifted as young Philadelphia center Nerlens Noel or second-year Sacramento big man Willie Cauley-Stein. If the Cavs thought they could benefit so greatly off an injury to Andersen, they would have pretended he was hurt long ago.
13. Not really, but you get the point.
14. They’re more likely to get someone who can play around 10 minutes a night behind starting center Tristan Thompson. Realistically, the best they can do is get someone to run up and down the floor and maybe alter some shots while Thompson rests.
15. Love has been amazing lately, and finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds. LeBron scored 26, and Irving went for 21 and tied his career high with 12 assists. For more of my stuff on the game, go here.
16. Finally, Nance Jr. played his first NBA regular-season game in his home state. And of course, where his dad was a hoops legend. “It was really cool playing underneath my dad’s jersey,” Nance told reporters. “I tried to approach it as a regular game, but anytime you play at home, it means a little more.”
17. Nance scored two points and grabbed five rebounds in 27 minutes.