It’s never really easy winning in the NBA, but it sure looked that way as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Brooklyn Nets on the road 110-88, led by Dion Waiters off the bench while LeBron James, Kevin Love and especially Kyrie Irving had a much more toned down kind of performance.
Not that it mattered. The more players get involved in the scoring, the better for the Cavaliers. James can just hang back and work on becoming the assists champion in the NBA, something he’s quite capable of doing or at least coming close to if he trusts his teammates enough to lay off the scoring. No super numbers from him this time, but still – 18 points with 7 assists and 3 steals doesn’t tell the whole story of how he’s influencing the game.
Dion Waiters has been having a rough season. He’s been benched for his defense and the rough start, both individually and for the team. For a player who loves to handle the ball, it’s hard being relegated more and more to a more periphiral role. But against Brooklyn, Waiters scored 26 points on 11-of-21 from the field in what was probably his best game this season.
As for the rest of the gang, Kevin Love scored 19 points to go with 14 rebounds; Anderson Varejao had 14 rebounds as well, 7 of them on offense. Tristan Thompson had an excellent performance with 14 points and 12 boards, 8 on offense (20 overall on the offensive glass for the Cavaliers) and even James Jones got in on the fun with 12 points, all from beyond the arc.
And Kyrie Irving? Only 7 points for the point guard on 2-of-10 from the field. The Cavaliers hardly noticed he was having such a night with everything else going so smoothly for them, improving to 12-7 and all of a sudden, after their abysmal start which included a string of frustrating losses, the road to the top of the East doesn’t look so long and difficult anymore. It’s right there for the taking.