Love, Cleveland Cavaliers bounce back with rout of Brooklyn Nets
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Kevin Love had 17 points and 18 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from their embarrassing performance against Golden State with a 91-78 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
LeBron James also had 17 points and neither forward played in the fourth quarter, a welcome rest with a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
More importantly for the Cavs, it was a welcome performance after they were crushed 132-98 on Monday in the NBA Finals rematch.
Love had only three points and six rebounds in that game, renewing questions about his role with the Cavs in his second season in Cleveland. But he would fit with the Cavs or any other team the way he played Wednesday, controlling the defensive backboards — all of his rebounds were on that end — while shooting 5 for 10 from the field.
James had only one rebound and played just 29 minutes, but a couple of his powerful dunks in the first quarter showed the Cavs were more ready at the start than they were Monday.
Cleveland led by 23 in the second half before Brooklyn made the score respectable when the Cavs went deep into their reserves.
Brook Lopez had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who lost their fourth in a row and must have felt a little like the Cavs did at times Monday.
Nets interim coach Tony Brown said he expected the Cavs to come out “breathing fire,” but this victory had more to do with their talent than tenacity. Cleveland brought players off the bench who would start for Brooklyn, and one of the Cavs’ top reserves, Tristan Thompson, finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Cleveland was ahead by only four early in the second quarter before methodically pulling away to a 51-38 halftime lead. It grew to 73-55 after three and the Cavs’ stars never had to re-enter after Cleveland began the fourth with a quick burst.
Cavaliers: Timofey Mozgov, who has been the subject of trade rumours but was in the starting lineup again to face Lopez, had 11 points. … Cleveland improved to 11-1 against Atlantic Division teams this season.
Nets: Brooklyn fell to 5-2 against Cleveland at Barclays Center. … The Nets are worth $1.7 billion, Forbes said Wednesday in its annual ranking of NBA franchise valuations. That placed the Nets seventh in the league.
FAIR OR FOUL?
Cavs coach David Blatt was asked if he had talked to J.R. Smith about the flagrant foul that got him ejected in Monday’s loss. Smith barrelled into the Warriors’ Harrison Barnes, who was setting a pick.
“We have talked about it and looking at that play, I’m not sure — I’m not sure — that if that was someone else that that’s a flagrant foul in all honesty,” Blatt said, referring to Smith’s reputation. “But that’s not my decision. That was someone else’s decision and nonetheless, we did talk about it, yes.”