CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Beware the ides of March.
The Cavaliers entered Tuesday night’s game with the Pistons having lost 6 of their last 9, but they hardly looked like a team that was sputtering through the month after they put on a shooting display in the first half that rivaled the Harlem Globetrotters.
The Cavs made their first 10 from three and hit 23 of their first 27 shots from the field to open up a 26-point lead at halftime on their way to a 128-96 victory Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
LeBron James tallied his 10th triple-double of the season, and fourth this month, with 16 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in just over 28 minutes of work.
Kyrie Irving led everyone with 26 as Cleveland shot a season-best 59.7 percent from the floor in the rout.
Unlike we’ve seen happen in previous games, the Cavs didn’t take their foot off the gas after racing out to a big lead. Instead, they lowered the boom allowing head coach Tyronn Lue to give his starters the fourth quarter off thanks to a 34-point cushion.
“It’s been a while since we actually came out and put a team away early in the third quarter where guys could sit in the fourth quarter,” Lue said.
Lue even played the new guy, Larry Sanders, sending him to the floor for the final 1:58 to receive an ovation from the home crowd.
As for the recent slump, general manager David Griffin downplayed the recent results prior to the game.
“I’m concerned in so far as I would like to see us actually act on the things we know we need to do,” Griffin said. “But I’m not concerned in so far as it reveals anything about us having real deficiencies.”
Kevin Love has been out since Feb. 11, J.R. Smith just returned after missing 11 weeks due to a broken thumb and Andrew Bogut didn’t last a minute into his Cavs debut on March 6 before breaking his tibia and being lost for the season.
In addition to Bogut, Griffin added Derrick Williams and Deron Williams to the mix following the trade deadline which passes on Feb. 22. Kyle Korver, currently sidelined with a foot injury, was acquired Jan. 10 from Atlanta.
“What we have is a lineup that has been really hodgepodge because of all the injuries,” Griffin said. “I’m concerned that we haven’t been winning. Certainly you want to be doing more of that. But I’m not concerned in terms of what it means for us long term at all.”
The good news is that Love is expected to return at some point during their 4-game road trip that starts Saturday night in L.A. against the Clippers and Korver, who has missed the last 3 games, could be back soon as well.
Despite having at least 7 bodies moving in and out of the lineup, the Cavs are still atop the Eastern Conference 21 games above .500 with a 2-game lead on Boston and 2 1/5 on Washington.
“To be able to hold down the fort the way we’ve done it so far and still be the No. 1 seed with a two- or three-game lead I feel great and confident where we’re at,” Lue said. “Now our guys are starting to get healthy and come back.
“We’re going to take off.”
If Tuesday night’s performance was any indication, Lue just might be right.