Clippers end skid with victory over Cavaliers
CLEVELAND — LeBron James isn’t concerned yet. The Cavaliers’ losing streak is only at two. If it gets to three, James said, there will be something to talk about.
The Los Angeles Clippers know that feeling well. They passed for a season-high 33 assists Thursday in a 113-94 victory over the Cavaliers that ended their own three-game losing skid.
“We played the right way. It was important for us to see what it felt like to win a game,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “When you’re running off (wins) like we were and then you lose three in a row, you need to get that feeling back just to get our locker room back right.”
Los Angeles’ J.J. Redick scored 23 points, Paul added 16 points, Blake Griffin scored 13 points and passed for a season-high 11 assists, and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 15 rebounds to hand the Cavs their most lopsided loss of the season.
The Cavs (13-4) dropped their past two games by a combined 36 points.
Kyrie Irving scored 28 points and James contributed 16, but Cleveland passed for just 12 assists while committing 18 turnovers. The Cavaliers trailed by 27 in the fourth quarter, marking their largest deficit of the season.
“They played desperate basketball with them losing the last three,” James said. “They played some good ball, and we gotta figure it out, which we will.”
A jumper from Tristan Thompson pulled the Cavs within 47-45 with two minutes left in the first half, but the Clippers outscored Cleveland by 14 over the final two minutes of the first half and the first two minutes of the third quarter.
The Cavs opened the second half with three consecutive turnovers, followed by missed shots on their next five possessions. They didn’t score their first basket of the second half until nearly four minutes into the third quarter. By then, the Clippers’ lead was 16.
Cleveland forward Kevin Love scored 16 points but grabbed only four rebounds. He didn’t get his first rebound until midway through the third quarter on a night when the Clippers posted a 47-36 rebounding advantage.
The Cavs shot 9 of 24 from the 3-point arc, snapping their NBA-record streak of 16 consecutive games with at least 10 3-pointers. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue thought a lot of the problems stemmed from the way the Clippers switched on pick-and-rolls, forcing Cleveland to play a lot of one-on-one.
“If you’re going to live the same way, you’ve got to be able to die the same way,” Irving said. “We have confidence in our one-on-one abilities. We’re still going to keep going to that no matter what. We’re not going to lose confidence in one another.”
The weary Clippers were playing their fifth game on a six-game road trip. They fell in double overtime to the hapless Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday — the same night the Cavs were blasted by the Milwaukee Bucks.
“It’s who we are. I really believe that,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of the team’s Thursday performance. “We actually played to our potential. We had some adversity, which is great. Chris got in foul trouble and we extend the lead. It was a team win.”
Rivers believes playing the defending champions got his players’ attention.
“They get your respect,” the Los Angeles coach said of the Cavs. “They get your attention. You could see it in walkthrough this morning. Not a lot of talking. There was a lot of listening, which is good.”
NOTES: LeBron James was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, joining Tiger Woods as the only athletes to win it twice. James also won it in 2012. ... James will pay up on his World Series bet with Bulls guard Dwyane Wade and wear a full Cubs uniform to the Friday game at Chicago. Wade would have had to wear an Indians uniform in Cleveland had the Tribe won the World Series. ... Cavs G/F Mike Dunleavy was placed in the league’s concussion protocol after getting hit in the head Tuesday at Milwaukee. ... Clippers coach Doc Rivers was fined $15,000 for his outburst toward official Ken Mauer on Tuesday in a loss at Brooklyn. Rivers didn’t realize how angry he looked until watching the replay after the game. “I kept getting calls from my friends from Boston like, ‘Are you OK?’ And I thought, “What the hell, was I that over the board?” And then when I saw it I was like, ‘Yeah, I was pretty nuts.’” ... Rivers said he got emotional watching his protege, Tyronn Lue, win the championship last season. “Other than me winning, it was the best single day I have ever had, it was that emotional for me because he is like my son,” Rivers said. “It was awesome for me.”