Cavaliers get much-needed win vs. Nets
CLEVELAND -- The worst team in the league showed up on Cleveland’s doorstep at the perfect time Friday night.
The tension created by losing six of eight and LeBron James’ comments questioning the organization this week were diffused slightly with a 124-116 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
“Hell yeah I feel better,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It feels good to get a win any way you can get it.”
The defending champs needed something to feel good about.
James scored 31 points and passed for 11 assists, Kyrie Irving scored 28 points and the Cavaliers improved to 6-7 during the month of January. It was just their third win in their last nine games.
The final was closer than it should have been because the Nets scored 43 points in the fourth quarter, continuing a trend they have set all season.
It’s the third time they have scored at least 40 points against the Cavs in the fourth quarter -- but they lost all three games.
It was the fourth-straight loss for the Nets and the 15th in their last 16 games. Perhaps sensing the impending doom, coach Kenny Atkinson rested Brook Lopez and Caris LeVert after already being without Trevor Booker (illness), Joe Harris (sprained ankle) and Jeremy Lin (hamstring).
“Putting them on edge isn’t the best thing in the world (for us),” Atkinson said. “But I think Tyronn Lue said it best: they’re a great team.”
Kevin Love scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds one day after he was named an All-Star and Tristan Thompson added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
It has been a volatile week for the Cavs, who needed a victory to shift some of the focus off the relationship between James and the rest of the organization.
He was terrific again Friday, making 13 of 18 shots and adding five rebounds. James complicated matters for the Cavs when he wondered aloud if the organization was serious about winning a championship, forcing General Manager David Griffin to admonish him for the remarks.
James, however, doesn’t mind the adversity from what has been a difficult January.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “Listen, at the end of the day, the road to a championship or the road to success shouldn’t be a bed of roses. That’s never been my road. I don’t think I should expect anything different. So, having bumps in the road, I think it builds character and I think it’s good for our team. I think it’s good for our individuals as well.”
Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points for the Nets and Bojan Bogdanovic added 17. Isaiah Whitehead and Randy Foye each scored 16.
“They’re a great team. For us to really come out today and play together, I think it was really fun,” Kilpatrick said. “It was actually fun to play today. I think we played hard. That’s something that as a teammates, that?s something that you can deal with.”
Lue reminded his players before Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings they were the defending champs. He is confident eventually they’ll start playing like it again.
“We’re the champs and right now we’re going through a tough stretch but that’s nothing,” Lue said. “Everybody goes through a tough stretch. Now you got to dig yourself out of it. We’re capable of doing it. We are going to do it. We are the champs, we do have a great team and we have the (fourth) best record in the NBA right now so we got to play like it.”
NOTES: F Quincy Acy’s second 10-day contract expires Sunday. The Nets will either have to sign him for the rest of the season or cut him loose. “No decision has been made yet,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. ... Kyle Korver scored 14 points off the bench after a slow start to surpass 10,000 for his career. At 32, Cavs F LeBron James will be the oldest player in the All-Star game this season. He’ll also be without any of his close friends in Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. “Obviously, it sucks not having my guys there that I’ve spent so many All-Star weekends with,” he said. “For me personally, it’s an honor to be able to represent this franchise, represent my family. Like I said, I’m doing something right. I just want to try to continue that.” ... James on his relationship with owner Dan Gilbert, which has been scrutinized this week: “He’s the owner of the team, I’m one of the players on the team,” he said. “I think all 14 guys have a working relationship with our owner. It’s not about me and it’s not about him, so, it’s a non-issue.”