After hitting a low point in the previous game, Kevin Love enjoyed a concentrated effort from his teammates and especially LeBron James to get him involved and boost his confidence in an attempt that worked out very well with the Cleveland Cavaliers easily beating the tanking Los Angeles Lakers 120-105.
Love seemed frustrated following his five point night. Confidence in his shot? Not finding his place in David Blatt’s offense? Whatever the problems was or still is, it didn’t seem to have any sort of effect on him or the team as Love scored 32 points, a season high for him and only the second time this season with at least 30 points. He grabbed 10 rebounds to make it a double double and had more touches than anyone on the team (74), showing just how much the Cavaliers made an effort to get him involved.
This seemed like a perfect opportunity for the Cavaliers to pad the stat lines, ending up with three players on 20 & 10 performances, the first time it has happened to the club since December, 2004. James was also part of that game next to Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. James finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists on 70 touches (just for the sake of comparison) and Kyrie Irving, on 63 touches, was excellent scoring 28 points and adding 10 assists, having no problem scorching whoever was trying to guard him on the Lakers’ end.
With a combined 82 points, it was the Cavs’ Big Three second best scoring night of the season. Their combined 60.4% from the field, maybe more important in this case, was their highest of the season, taking 48 shots between them and no one with less than 14 attempts. The trend of winning when James spreads the ball around continues, as the Cavaliers (32-21) improved to 23-7 when James has at least 7 assists.
Love scored 25 of his 32 points on catch-and-shoot field goal attempts. He hit 7-of-8 from beyond the arc, all of his 3’s coming on such shots. All of his 11 field goals came off of assists, and his catch-and-shoot numbers were off the chart compared to the rest of the season, averaging only 5.5 points that way while making just 36.5% of his field goals attempts (80% against the Lakers) and 34.2% of his 3-point attempts on catch and shoots.
While Love can do a lot more than just move around screens and wait for the ball to swing his way, in the current climate and the offensive system the Cavaliers are working through, his catch-and-shoot mode is the most efficient for the team. There’s no way around it: Three ball-dominant players can’t all have their way, and there is a hierarchy in this. James comes first, Irving second and Love, being a big man and stretch forward, is going to see the ball come his way from others, instead of getting the chance to dictate play.
The sooner he comes to grips with that and makes the most of it, the better for the Cavaliers. Their defense has improved since the changes made through trades and their offensive balance has been figured out, although J.R. Smith, this time attempting only four field goals, remains a dangerous wild card in the eyes of some. Good thing to have a team like the Lakers with a terrible head coach like Byron Scott to playing against you, helping struggling players boost their confidence.