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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Game 33: Cavs at Hornets

Time Warner Cable Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers are learning how to play without All-Star forward LeBron James, who will miss the next two weeks with a left knee strain and a lower back strain. They'll miss his leadership, playmaking ability and 25-point average.

2. They are embarking on the chapter, "Life Without LeBron." It's not expected to be a best-seller. The Cavs are now 1-4 this season without James in the lineup. This was their first win without James. They face some rugged competition in the next couple weeks. There's going to be more losing in the coming weeks. Take him off this flawed roster and it spells doom.

3. Power forward Kevin Love, who had missed the previous 1 1/2 games with back spasms, returned with a vengeance. He was outstanding with 27 points, five rebounds and a block. That's the kind of numbers the Cavs were expecting all season from him. He's going to get more shots without James in the lineup. Love's three 3-pointers in a span of 1 minute in the third quarter handed the Cavs the lead they never lost. Love has to be the focal point of the offense with James on the sidelines.

4. Forward Shawn Marion, who had been sidelined with a sprained left ankle, still can't shoot a lick. However, he was very active on Friday, defended his butt off and pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds. That was a darn good off the bench.

5. The Cavs had just two players score off the bench - Marion (7) and guard Dion Waiters (17). Waiters is playing so well for the Cavs. He added five rebounds, two assists and matched his season high with four steals. Waiters is one of the few tradeable assets they have that other teams might want, but he's too valuable to deal.

6. The Hornets have now lost five in a row. They have had their share of injuries, as well. Center Al Jefferson (left groin strain), guards Jannero Pargo (lower back soreness) and Lance Stephenson (pelvic sprain) and forward Jeff Taylor (D-League assignment) are all out. They need Jefferson's brute force in the middle in the worst way. I've never been a Bismack Biyombo fan.

7. Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving had scored 25 or more points in each of his previous four games. In that span, he was averaging 28.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals. He fell a bit short on Friday with 23 points, but he added four rebounds, three assists and also matched his season high with four steals. 

8. Mike Miller and Matthew Dellavedova paced the Cavs with four assists apiece. Miller is going through an odd stretch. He attempted just one shot in 21 minutes. The guy needs to shoot the ball. He's shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from the 3-point line this season (he hasn't attempted a free throw).

9. I've got to tell you I love the minutes the Cavs are getting from center Tristan Thompson. He ended with 14 points, a game-high 14 rebounds, six on the offensive glass, and three blocks. He's playing his arse off. 

UP NEXT: vs. Dallas, Quicken Loans Arena, 1 p.m., Sunday

SF Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6-7, 232)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Cody Zeller (7-0, 240)
C Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Bismack Biyombo (6-9, 245)
SG Matthew Dellavedova (6-4, 200) vs. Gerald Henderson (6-5, 215)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Kemba Walker (6-1, 184)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, F LeBron James
Hornets - C Al Jefferson, G Jannero Pargo, F Jeff Taylor
Ken Mauer, Tony Brown, Tyler Ford


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