The Cleveland Cavaliers (15-34) fought and fought and then fought some more Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena against the Charlotte Bobcats (11-37). Even with a 33-point lead entering the final quarter of play, Cleveland showed no mercy to the punchless ‘Cats. Even with the game well in hand in the fourth quarter and Charlotte winning back-to-back possessions, shooting guard Wayne Ellington continued with the onslaught of long-range jumpers. The bench continued to be the support for starters who have no problem with starting and finishing games and no hangover from the win against the Oklahoma City Thunder was present, as the Cavs won 122-95.
Cleveland scored a season-high 122 points and carried the momentum from their ambush in the second half against the Thunder, scoring 63 and 65 points respectively to end Saturday’s game and begin Wednesday’s game. They also shot at a season-high clip of 56.5 percent, only getting to the line 13 times and putting up the ball a total of 92 times. It started in the first quarter and stayed consistent throughout, and Dion Waiters was the player to spark the offensive outburst.
Waiters has been notorious in his rookie season for putting up ill-advised shots and not knowing when to stop. Usually he has trouble finishing at the rim (he ranks ninth from the bottom with a shooting percentage of 52.8 percent), but tonight he made 5-of-6 attempts at the rim. He started this trend by being aggressive in the paint from the onset, as he made all three of his attempts in the first quarter. He finished 9-of-14 from the field and tallied 19 points and five assists. The mistakes were few and far between tonight, as Waiters only had two of the team’s six total turnovers.
With Dion off to his best start of the season, the bench was right there to back him up. They scored 11 of the team’s 32 first quarter points and had Cleveland up by 11 at the close of the first 12 minutes. Marreese Speights came in with less than five minutes remaining in the frame, and that’s a trend I want to start seeing on a nightly basis. He finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds and recorded his second double-double in as many games. His energy carried over to the second quarter, as Cleveland came out shooting 61 percent form the floor.
As soon as Cleveland opened up a 21-point lead with 5:33 to go in the first half, I knew there was no looking back. Before Tyrus Thomas hit a layup, Charlotte was kept scoreless for over four minutes. That allowed the Wine and Gold to score 14 unanswered points. The Bobcats were playing in their final game of a five-game road trip, but they have no excuse because the Cavaliers have been road tested more than any team in the NBA. Being outscored over the last 9:42 of the game, Cleveland opened up a 24-point lead going into the second half due to an impressive effort from Tristan Thompson. The sophomore’s left hook was on fire tonight, as he scored 13 of his 17 points in the second quarter.
Cleveland was beating Charlotte in every which way, and the 16 points off 10 Bobcat turnovers and a tripling effort versus Charlotte’s production in the paint were both big reasons why Cleveland had success all night long. The Cavs ended up outscoring the Bobcats in the paint by a mark of 50-30 and ended with 22 points off of 13 turnovers.
Nothing changed in the second half, as Cleveland recorded their fourth straight 30-point performance in a quarter’s time. Back-to-back threes by Kyrie Irving and a Tyler Zeller slam to top the frame put Cleveland in triple digits with less than two minutes remaining in the third. Irving finished with 22 points and shot 5-of-5 from beyond the arc, and proved that Cleveland could put a whole 48 minutes together by pressuring a team’s top scorers and being aggressive in the paint. That was definitely true, as the Cavs finished with 45 rebounds and forced Kemba Walker to shoot 2-of-11 from the field.
Ellington helped the team finish off the fourth quarter, as the starters watched on. He scored 16 points off the bench on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, the most of any reserve. The pieces from the Memphis Grizzlies have been contributing at a high rate and are a big part of the team’s recent success of winning five of their last seven games.
The Cavaliers have now won their first two games of a seven-game home stand. They will go up against the Orlando Magic on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in an attempt to record their second three-game winning streak of the season.