Dribbles: Cavs hit passing gear again
Random dribbles on the Cavaliers’ 118-103 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns on Thursday:
1. Man, sometimes it’s easy to forget how remarkable LeBron James truly is. Then he has a night like Thursday, and Cavs fans remember to raise their hands to the basketball heavens and offer thanks.
2. It’s true that the Suns stink. It’s true that James and the Cavs could beat them with one eye closed and a 20-pound tractor on their back.
3. But there are at least three ways you can approach this game. You can mail it in, relax, and do the bare minimum to get by -- sort of like the Cavs did in Phoenix last week. You can go all out, play your starters deep into the fourth quarter and run up the score just to prove you can. (Coach Steve Kerr loves doing that with the Warriors.) Or you can fall somewhere in between, getting back to the basics, playing the right way and never really feeling threatened.
4. The Cavs did the last of those things Thursday, with LeBron leading the way. He made sure coach Tyronn Lue’s cries for ball movement came to life -- passing for 15 of the team’s whopping 29 assists. Basically, the Cavs needed to return to a winning mindset, and LeBron made sure they did.
5. Kyrie Irving was also magnificent, playing his best all-around game since returning from a hamstring injury at the start of that six-game road trip. Irving and the Cavs were happy to be back home, and that was pretty evident from the start.
6. James told reporters: "Coming off our road trip we just weren't playing Cavaliers basketball, and getting the ball popping from one side to the other. It was good to get back to the way we've been playing for most of the season."
7. The result of that was everyone from Channing Frye (18 points) to Iman Shumpert (17) to James Jones (14) filling it up. Jones filled in for Kevin Love (back spasms) and the Cavs looked every bit as comfortable.
8. By the way, Shumpert has been much better this season, and particularly good the last three or four weeks. After a disappointing season last year, he’s really given the Cavs a lift in J.R. Smith’s absence. Smith, of course, is still a ways away from returning following thumb surgery.
9. More specifically, Smith just had the hard cast removed from his hand. He could still miss the next 8-10 weeks.
10. Kyle Korver scored nine points in his first game as a Cavalier in Cleveland.
11. So the Cavs (30-11) sport the same record they had last season at the midway point. I’d say that’s a good sign, since they won the title. And I think, overall, they look like a more cohesive and better team this year.