Pindowns: Calderon comes through — again — for Cavs

Jose Calderon showed his worth -- again -- for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night in Chicago.

Thirty random pindowns after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 113-109 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at United Center…

1. Regarded as the best player on the planet, LeBron James is the unquestioned Most Valuable Player of the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, considering how not only he, but how the team has performed when he’s played, a case for the next in line can be made for Jose Calderon.

2. The veteran point guard once again proved his worth against the Bulls. With Kyle Korver excused to be away from the team because of a family emergency, coach Tyronn Lue turned to Calderon to be part of his starting lineup and the move paid huge dividends as Calderson had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in a season-high 36 minutes.

3. The victory in Chicago improved Cleveland’s record in games Calderon starts to 18-8. When he doesn’t start, the Cavs’ record is 22-21. Further, when Calderon plays 10 minutes or more, Cleveland is 21-10.

4. “I know everything lately is about stats, but it’s more than that,” Calderon said to reporters after the game. “Just for me, like I always say since Day 1, my job is to be ready, to help these guys in whatever situation they need.”

5. Calderon, 36, who was the first player new general manager Koby Altman signed last summer, showed his typical professionalism as he continued. “I don’t want to say I’m not happy about it, that’s saying I’m doing my job, but that’s all,” he said. “I’m going to keep working until Ty Lue calls my name and otherwise, no, I’m ready and I want to help. Today was 36 minutes and it’s good. I’m excited to play for this team.”

6. Calderon shot 3-of-6 against the Bulls, including 2-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. On the season, he is shooting 44.9 percent from deep, all the while remaining a pass-first point guard.

7. “That’s what I’m trying to do while I’m out there,” Calderon said. “I’m trying to get everybody, like I say, ‘OK, this is what we want. We’re doing this. Or why LeBron is in this position. We want J.C. (Jordan Clarkson) or Jeff (Green). We’re trying to find the weaknesses of the other team.’ And I like to do that, and that’s why sometimes in the game I try to run something different just to get the ball in the right spot.”

8. As usual, though, it all started and ended with James, who had yet another dominant performance, posting his 15th triple-double of the season with 33 points, 12 boards and 12 dimes, adding a steal and two resounding blocked shots in 40 minutes.

9. With Kevin Love (broken left hand), Larry Nance Jr. (right hamstring), Rodney Hood (lower back), Tristan Thompson (right ankle) and rookie Cedi Osman (left hip) all out with injuries, and with Korver not with the team, James found himself part of the 21st different starting lineup Lue has put together this season. Even so, he said he’s having a blast.

10. “‘I feel great, personally,’’ James said after the win. ‘‘I had already hit the switch before the trade deadline. I’m having a heck of a time playing the game right now, no matter who’s in the lineup for us. We’re not winning as much as we would like, but we’re still figuring out ways to get wins, which is very tough in this league. We already know that. But the joy of the game is very high for me right now.”

11. The 33 points extended James’ streak of double-figure scoring to 860 games, only six behind the NBA record head by Michael Jordan. Barring something completely unforeseen, James will tie M.J. on March 28 at Charlotte and wrest the record from him March 30 against visiting New Orleans.

12. James’ triple-double is the 70th of his career, making him only the sixth player in NBA history to reach that mark, joining Oscar Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138), Jason Kidd (107), Russell Westbrook (101) and the late Wilt Chamberlain (78).

13. Asked before the game which player he planned to start against James to try to slow him down, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said, ‘‘The whole team.’’

14. Afterward he could not help but marvel at what James does, night in, night out.

15. ‘‘He’s obviously playing at as high a level as he has his entire career,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘He’s doing so many things to make the game easier. If you’re one second off him, he’s making that on-time, on-target pass. It’s fun to watch him. It’s not fun to play against him.’’

16. ‘‘It’s so easy for him right now,’’ Hoiberg continued. ‘‘The game is effortless. LeBron wants to be a passer first. That’s where he was hurting us early. And then he got loose and got to the rim. In the second half, we did a much better job. We held that team to 45 [points] and gave ourselves a chance to win.’’

17. Denzel Valentine led all scorers, putting up a career-high 34 points, including shooting 8-of-11 from 3, and adding seven rebounds, six assists and a blocked shot. With Zach Lavine (left knee), Lauri Markkanen (back), Kris Dunn (turf toe), Noah Vonleh (right toe) and Robin Lopez (healthy scratch) all not playing, Valentine kept the Bulls in it, helping them rally from a 17-point halftime deficit with a 16-point third quarter, including three treys.

18. “Denzel was hitting shots from the horn of the Bulls logo,” quipped James through a smile.

19. ‘‘I was just trying to be aggressive,’’ Valentine said. ‘‘With Zach being out, I knew that we needed a scorer out there and somebody to make plays. Kris was out and Lauri, too, so I knew we were very limited. But I just wanted to be aggressive. Coach kept coming to me, and I was just playing confident.’’

20. Confidence doesn’t do much good against a talent such as James, though.

21. ‘‘It’s kind of frustrating because you’re playing your hardest and you just can’t do anything about it,’’ Valentine said regarding playing against James. ‘‘He’s hitting tough shots, and that’s why he’s the best player on the planet.’’

22. Ante Zizic continues to impress. The rookie big man scored 14 points, on 7-of-9 shooting, and adding six rebounds (4 on the offensive end) and a blocked shot in equaling his career-high of 20 minutes.

23. As was the case with Osman until he was injured, watching Zizic play, albeit in a small sample size, brings the question of why didn’t give the Zizic, acquired as part of the Kyrie Irving trade back on Aug. 22, more run earlier in the season.

24. There have been reports Love hopes to make his return as soon as next week. The five-time All-Star, who broke his hand Jan. 30 in Detroit, was on the floor at United Center before Saturday night’s game working on some ball handling drills.

25. With only nine healthy bodies, Cleveland had contributions from several other players, in addition to James, Calderon and Zizic. Jeff Green played a season-high 43 minutes and contributed 21 points, four rebounds and two assists, Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to post 19 points and two rebounds in 32 minutes, making 4-of-9 from beyond the 3-point line, George Hill had eight points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal in 33 minutes, J.R. Smith had five points, five boards, an assist and a steal in 22 minutes, John Holland contributed five points and a rebound in 11 minutes and London Perrantes chipped in with a pair of assists in four minutes.

26. For what it’s worth, Holland had the best plus-minus rating for the Cavs, plus-15, while Hill was plus-14, Calderon plus-six, Smith plus-three, Clarkson plus-one and Perrantes even. James and Green were both minus-four, while Zizic was minus-six.

27. After the game, James rewarded a young fan by giving him his black arm sleeve worn during the game.

28. The Cavaliers are down to 13 games left in the regular season, including a three-game homestand this week against Milwaukee, Toronto and Phoenix on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Of those 13 games to be played, eight are at Quicken Loans Arena and five are on the road. Cleveland is 22-11 at home and 18-18 on the road.

29. Cleveland’s win, combined with Indiana’s loss at Washington, puts the Cavaliers back in the third spot in the Eastern Conference standings, a half-game better than fourth-place Washington (40-30) and fifth-place Indiana (40-30). Philadelphia (38-30) is 1.5 games back of the Cavaliers in sixth, while seventh-place Milwaukee (37-22) trails Cleveland by 3.0 games and eighth-place Miami (37-33) is 3.5 games behind the Cavaliers.

30. The Cavaliers are off today as they look to recharge their batteries after the longest road trip of their season. It remains to be seen when the organization offers an update on the status of Lue, who did not come out of the locker room for the second half because of an illness. It marked the second time he has not come out after halftime in a game this season and his third absence overall. Associate head coach Larry Drew led the team in the second half.

3 Comments on "Pindowns: Calderon comes through — again — for Cavs"

  1. Calderone has been the cavaliers most reliable point guard this season. He has played better in many ways than George Hill whose memorable performance was a 26 point well defensed close game aginst the nets. Calderone has played better than raymond felton whom many thought should have been the cavaliers back up point gurard acquisition in free agency. Derrick Rose amazingly is still in the NBA and Calderone was a superior team player to rose and Thomas.

  2. Good win. LeBron was great. Jeff Green had a great game. And Big Z is what 27-32 field goals as a starter? He’s 21. Play him more, Lue.

  3. I’m putting JR on the bench and he doesn’t play anymore this season. And I’m looking to dump him in the off season. Caledron is a legit playoff caliber player, he’s better than Delly was. It’s a must Clarkson is off the ball as much as possible. I don’t think Calderon will get many minutes in the playoffs if we’re healthy.Lebron should be the point guard with the 2nd team. Zizic is right where he should be and should not have played any more or less this season. Same with Cedi. I hope Lue has nothing too serious. I wonder.

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