Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James Plays the Reluctant Hero

LeBron James

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors 105-101 after a huge night from LeBron James which included a very big fourth quarter and hitting the 3-pointer that gave them the lead late in the game, extending their win streak to eight games.

James hasn’t scored 30 points or more in 11 straight games but finished with 35 points on 12-of-21 from the field and an even rarer (for him) 9-of-9 from the free throw line. With the game tied at 99-99 and under 50 seconds to go, some great shot faking from Kevin Love released James to a wide open three which he nailed, giving the Cavaliers their first lead after trailing for most of the game, including by 10 points early in the fourth.

Their defense wasn’t working for most of the night but finished the fourth quarter allowing just 13 points to the Raptors, who have now lost their sixth game this season, tied for number of losses with the Washington Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks. Kyle Lowry, scoring 16 points, continues to struggle with his shooting while DeMar DeRozan isn’t next to him, hitting only 6-of-18 from the field. On his most meaningful possession, after James put the Cavs up by three, Lowry got stuck against Tristan Thompson and his shot hit the top of the board and bounced out of bounds, practically giving the game to the Cavaliers.

Thompson grabbed the offensive rebound that allowed James to hit that lead-making 3-pointer, the only second chance points the Cavaliers had all game. Kevin Love was missing 3-pointer at an alarming rate until his corner 3-pointer less than a minute before James had his big moment, tying the game at 97. Love finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 18 off the bench. For the first time this season, he had two consecutive good games.

How good are the Cavaliers right now? During their 8-game winning streak, their offensive efficiency (113.8 points per 100 possessions) is second-best in the league, their TS% is third at 58.5% and their defensive efficiency of 98.6 is 4th best in the league over that span. Hitting the magic number, 100 points, is also a big part of it, as the Cavaliers are 12-1 this season when scoring more than 100 points, while going 1-6 when finishing with less.

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