Playing in their fourth road game in five nights, the Cleveland Cavaliers (21-9) went into Denver to face off against the Nuggets (12-20) and controlled the game from the opening tip-off all the way to the final buzzer. The final score may have seemed close but you can’t judge a game by the final score. And this game had a completely different story than what the score had to offer.
The Cavs had the game in hand thanks to a certain ‘King’ who was the difference in this game.
LeBron James, who only scored a combined 26 points in his last two games, broke out and dropped 34 points on 13-24 shooting. The Nuggets through different defenders at James to disrupt him but nothing seemed to work. His jump shot was much more smooth and just looked to be in one of those rhythms we’ve all become accustomed to witnessing.
He also gave the Denver crowd a little show on the fast break. One dunk he pulled off was a double pump reverse off of a steal. The other dunk James pulled off was his signature one handed slam from almost the free-throw line.
James was outscored by the whole Nuggets starting lineup by just one single point.
Providing a spark for the Cavs was Iman Shumpert, who also was in a scoring drought of his own. Shumpert, who only scored 10 points in his last three games, caught fire and scored 16 points in 31 minutes off the bench for the Cavaliers. He was attacking the rim off the dribble and hit the occasional corner three ball.
The only player the Cavaliers had a problem guarding was Most Improved Player of the Year candidate Will Barton. Barton, who’s arguably been the Nuggets top player all season, scored 29 points on 11-20 shooting and hit three times from behind the arc. His performance kept the Nuggets afloat because without him this game was on pace to get out of hand.
Kyrie Irving Out:
Kyrie Irving sat out against the Nuggets as part of the recovery process from his knee injury. Irving told Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes earlier in the week that tonight would be the last time he sits out the second game of a back-to-back.
Irving has been on a minutes restriction since his return to slowly bring him back up to game speed and shape.
In his four games back to action, Irving is averaging 13 points 3 assists and shooting 34% all in about 21 minutes of play. Look for all of those numbers to drastically increase as the season carries on.
Stat Lines of the Night:
LeBron James: 34 points (13-24), 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Kevin Love: 8 points (4-16), 14 rebounds
Iman Shumpert: 16 points (7-13)
Tristan Thompson: 9 points (4-7), 7 rebounds
Will Barton: 29 points (11-20), 7 rebounds
Kennith Faried: 9 points (4-8), 8 rebounds
Joffrey Lauvergne: 14 points (7-12), 7 rebounds
Gary Harris: 12 points (5-13), 7 rebounds
The Cavaliers are done with basketball for the rest of 2015 but pick up action on January 2nd against the Orlando Magic (18-13) back at Quicken Loans Arena, 7:30pm ET
Follow on Twitter: