Game 48: Kings at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
1. It's not a sexy thing to write about. Sometimes, it's not even very interesting. But the difference in the current Cavaliers and the one that got their butts kicked in Sacramento Jan. 11 is defense. This team has bought into Coach David Blatt's system, and it's impressive to see. They keep getting better on the defensive end. They held the Kings to 35.7 percent shooting from the floor. That's a season low for a Cavs' opponent. They also held the Kings to 16.7 percent from the 3-point line. They are getting after it on that end.
2. That stout defense has fueled the Cavs' nine-game winning streak. It's their longest streak since they won 13 in a row from Jan. 16-Feb. 11, 2011. They are averaging 109.9 points during this streak. They also have an impressive +12.6-point differential.
3. Before I forget, why exactly did the Kings owner fire Mike Malone as coach? That move has backfired in his face, don't you think? Take nothing away from Tyrone Corbin, but Malone was doing a good job with the Kings. I just don't understand the move to fire him. In fact, it was a ridiculous move. Unless something was going on behind the scenes I don't know about, I can't condone it.
4. The fact that LeBron James played tonight was a curious one. He went from being doubtful right up to game time to playing. I think it was a bit fishy. I'm glad he played, and so were the 20,562 in attendance. He was restricted to 32 minutes against the Kings. Coach David Blatt said he missed that by 1 minute, as James played 33. His shot looked a bit off, which is normal for a player with a sprained right wrist.
5. Cavs power forward Kevin Love was left off the East team, but there was little chance of him making it. Coaches are watching the Cavs games, too. He's been mediocre at best since being traded to the Cavs. It's one thing for his scoring to be down. That was a given with James and Irving on the team. But Love is shooting 42 percent from the field and has had trouble defending all season. It just wasn't going to happen. Were you going to leave players like Atlanta's Al Horford or Paul Millsap or even Miami's Chris Bosh off the team? No way.
6. The Kings have three former Cavs players on their roster in Ramon Sessions, Omri Casspi and Ryan Hollins, not to mention Corbin. Casspi finished with 15 points and three rebounds. At times, he looked pretty good.
6. Cavs center Timofey Mozgov needed to show up tonight and at least make Cousins work. He did. Cousins still ended with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and a block. He shot just 5 of 17 from the field.
7. Kings point guard Darren Collison has scored in double figures in 20 consecutive games, in addition to 25 of their last 27. He's a very underrated player.
8. The Cavs have won nine games in a row. They've also won their last six games against Western Conference teams. They are 7-2 in their last nine games at The Q vs. Sacramento.
UP NEXT: at Minnesota, Target Center, 8 p.m. Saturday
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Rudy Gay (6-8, 230)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. DeMarcus Cousins (6-11, 270)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Ben McLemore (6-5, 195)
Kings - F Eric Moreland, F Reggie Evans