CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Tyronn Lue changed his starting lineup, LeBron James registered a quadruple-double, J.R. Smith and Derrick Rose had their best games of the season yet the Cavaliers had to hang on for dear life once again.
James finished with 26 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and 11 turnovers in a game that once again was much closer in the closing minutes than it needed to be as the Cavs hung on for a 115-108 win over the Indiana Pacers, avoiding a season sweep.
“Got up. Got comfortable. Took some bad shots – a lot of bad shots,” Lue said of the fourth quarter that saw the Cavs commit 9 turnovers. “Turned the basketball over. And we didn’t play the game the right way.
“We built the lead playing the right way and we got to continue to do it for 48 minutes.”
James now has eight triple doubles for the season and 63 for his career but six of his 11 turnovers came in the final quarter.
“It’s a four-interception game for a quarterback with a win,” James said when asked about the miscues down the stretch. “That’s what I think of it. I just made some bad decisions.”
J.R. Smith warmed up beyond the arc and scored a season-high 23 pints, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love registered double-doubles – Thompson 10 points and 10 rebounds and Love 10 points and 13 boards. Thompson was two rebounds shy of a double double by halftime.
Derrick Rose scored 14 points in 15 minutes off the bench but ran out of gas in the second half and couldn’t help relieve Isaiah Thomas, who shot five of 13 to finish with 12 points and had five turnovers, down the stretch.
“He was really, really good tonight,” James said of Rose. “He made his jump shots, got to the rim, made plays. That’s the backup point guard that we were thinking we were going to have, and to see him look healthy tonight and play with so much composure, it was great to have him.”
Thomas continues to try and work himself back into shape and while he tries to play like his normal self, it’s obvious he has a ways to go.
The Cavs dropped 71 on the Pacers in the first half, the most Indiana has allowed in a game this season through the first 24 minutes.
Cleveland led wire to wire – and by as many as 19 – after entering the game having lost 11 of their last 15.
Swish Back – J.R. Smith hit six of his first 10 three-point attempts in the first half and he finished seven of 13 from beyond the arc. The seven threes were a season high in a game for Smith this season.
“I needed a game like this,” Smith said.
So were his 23 points.
Smith was a combined five of 31 from deep in the previous five games and the last time he scored 20 in a game was Nov. 7.
“I just told myself I’m going to just shoot it and see what happens,” Smith said. “I just said hell with it, just shoot it, if it goes in great, if I miss, shooting percentage can’t go no lower.”
Nothing To See Here – During a timeout, Love tossed his hoodie in the face of teammate Jeff Green, who didn’t look happy in a video that went viral on social media and appearing to echo rumblings of problems within the team.
Or maybe not.
In the locker room after the game, Green teased Love about the “incident.”
“Hey, Kev, they thought you were serious,” Green yelled while Love was surrounded by reporters. “Tomorrow we’re putting on the gloves.”
Salute The King – The Cavs played a video tribute for LeBron James hitting 30,000 career points during the first timeout of Friday night’s game with the Cavs in front 13-10.
James acknowledged the ovation he received from the crowd with a wave.
In the second quarter the team played a congratulatory message from Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
James became the seventh – and youngest ever – in NBA history to score 30,000 points Tuesday night at San Antonio.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Thomspon’s comment on Thursday about the Cavs’ personality conflicts raised more than a few red flags – and eyebrows too.
“I don’t care if X don’t like X off the court. I really don’t give a s—. As long as you’re on the court playing hard and playing for each other, that’s all that matters to me,” Thompson said Thursday.
Prior to Friday night’s game with Indiana, Lue was asked to address Thompson’s remarks.
“The biggest thing is you have to respect all your teammates,” Lue said. “I was on a team where guys didn’t like each other but we won a championship.
“Once you get between the lines, you have to like who you’re playing with. Once you leave here, you don’t have to go out and hang out together and things like that, but you have to respect your teammate and play for your teammate.”
Lue knows exactly what will fix the internal squabbling.
“When you’re losing games, it looks like an issue. When you’re winning, that fixes a lot of things,” Lue said. “I don’t see camaraderie being a problem.. We just have to play better. Once you start playing better, the camaraderie is better.”
Wade Out – Dwyane Wade missed Friday night’s game against Indiana to deal with a “personal matter” and it is unclear when the guard will rejoin the team.
Wade spoke with Cavs general manager Koby Altman on Friday and Altman told him to take whatever time is necessary to handle whatever it is that Wade is dealing with according to Lue.