Dribbles: Cavs show what may await in rout
CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' 115-93 pummeling of the visiting Suns on Wednesday.
1. The Cavs needed another game against a vastly inferior opponent, mostly to get a better handle on Tyronn Lue's new approach. They got such an opponent, and they delivered. This particular game really was that simple. It was mostly a practice -- and a chance for the Cavs to see they're still explosive when all goes well.
2. The next two games offer much better tests. The Cavs (32-12) visit the Pistons on Friday, then return home to face the Spurs the next night. That's a back-to-back against two teams the Cavs have already lost to on the road.
3. The Pistons manhandled the Warriors last week, and when it comes to the Spurs -- well, we all know how the Cavs have fared against some of the league's elite.
4. Nonetheless, I wouldn't put too much into the weekend. If the Cavs can get one of the two, they'll be pretty happy. If they win both, it will show they're picking up steam sooner than even they expected. If they lose both, let's just get it out of the way right now -- it's not the end of the world.
5. Lue is admittedly still working on the rotation, and the players are admittedly still figuring out how to play quicker, while playing even smarter. Nor are the Cavs in the type of shape Lue wants for the playoffs in April. Thankfully, the playoffs are still about 11 weeks away, as we're barely past the halfway point of the regular season.
6. Highlights from this game? Start with Kevin Love, who scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in just 27 minutes. LeBron James also scored 21 points, and did it on 7-of-8 shooting. Yes, LeBron scored that many on just eight shots. He was only needed for the first three quarters.
7. James also passed for nine assists for the third straight game. He's compiled that number in all three games since Lue replaced David Blatt. It's not a coincidence.
8. J.R. Smith added 18 points on 7-of-11 from the floor. Richard Jefferson went 4-of-4 for 14. Overall, the Cavs made 45 shots on 34 assisted baskets.
9. Again, the Suns (14-33) are in a horrible spot. They weren't that good to begin with, and now they are missing their injured starting backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. Former Cavs forward Jon Leuer is one of their better players, and he's out, too. And their best player, forward Markieff Morris, seems to want traded and the Suns may soon oblige. They're a mess.
10. That's not the Cavs' problem, though. They're still finding their way under Lue, as they showed as slogging their way to a 55-50 halftime lead. But then they finally turned up the defense, started to push the pace and feel good about themselves -- lousy opponent or not.
11. One of the most memorable moments came on fast break when Smith raced down the floor and tossed the ball off the backboard to a trailing James. Monster dunk, crowd goes wild, and hey, the Cavs are having fun again.
12. Lue on the night: "Guys (are) getting a chance to get out and run, getting layups. J.R. Smith got a couple layups, dunks. LeBron got a couple dunks. I think the way we want to play is fun. Everybody gets involved."
13. Lue clinched the Eastern Conference All-Star coaching spot with the win -- the Cavs assuring themselves of the best record through the end of the month. Love had some fun with it, telling reporters: "He's won 66 percent of his games so far, right?"
14. Lue on coaching the All-Stars: "It's a tribute to coach Blatt and the players and the hard work the assistant coaches put in to get us to this point. I know my coaches are excited, and I know it's going to be a surreal moment."
15. Kyrie Irving only had eight points, but took just eight shots in 22 minutes. He clearly is still learning what Lue expects -- and has admitted as much. But the Cavs are gonna need him near his best this weekend, that's for sure.