CLEVELAND, Ohio — The 3-pointer is all the rage in the NBA these days, yes. But when the Cavaliers play the Atlanta Hawks, they really let those 3s fly. The Cavs bombed their way to a 123-114 win on Tuesday behind a season-high 20 3s.
A reminder, Cleveland’s previous high this year was 18, against these Hawks, on Nov. 30. Oh, and the Cavs hold the NBA records for 3s in a regular-season and playoff game — both 25 — against, yes, Atlanta.
Cleveland shot 20-of-38 (53 percent) from 3-point range Tuesday. Hey, the Hawks wanted to play too, and knocked down 16 3s on their own. They trimmed what was a 24-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
The Cavs set a team record with their 17th game of at least 10 3-pointers. They hit their 10th midway through the second quarter. Of the Cavs’ 11 field goals in the first period, nine were 3s, which is tied for the most 3s in a quarter in the NBA this season.
“I think they do a lot of double-teaming and tilting with the bigs so that allows LeBron (James) to just pick the guys apart,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.H”e’s able to make passes over the double team or to guys cutting for layups. When we’re playing with pace and getting out in transition it’s tough for those guys to get back and get matched. Just a credit to the guys offensively just doing the right thing and making the right plays.”
Individually, James made two 3s and finished with 25 points, tied a career high with 17 assists and seven boards. He shot 11-of-13 from the field for the third highest field-goal percentage of his career (.894), and, according to the NBA’s stats shop, is the first player this season to go over 300 field goals.
James’ other 17-assist game was Feb. 6 against Washington. He scored 16 in the second half on Tuesday.
The Cavs have won 15 of their last 16 games.
“We’re in a good rhythm right now,” James said. “We know what we want to run, we know where guys are going to be out on the floor, we kind of know how defenses have been playing us as of late and guys are moving and sharing the ball extremely well.
“When the ball is moving, energy is behind it and guys are in rhythm.”
Kyle Korver connected on six 3s off the bench and finished with 19 points. Kevin Love scored all 17 of his points in the first half with four 3s. Jose Calderon drained four 3s and tied a season high with 14 points.
Jae Crowder added 13 points. Cleveland is now 12-0 when he scores at least 10. Jeff Green chipped in 17 points.
J.R. Smith’s only basket was a 3-pointer (naturally), but he stood out with a season-high eight assists. He was noticeably handling the ball, perhaps more than at any point this season, and contributed five rebounds.
“They defend different sometimes, at least with myself and Jae in the starting lineup, they mix up the 4-5 coverages,” said Love, who added 12 boards. “Sometimes they’re tilting on a guy like LeBron or myself, so that weak side is open. But I think in transition we were extremely effective tonight. LeBron had, what, 17 assists and a lot of those, I imagine, nearly half came on 3-point shots.
“So, I don’t know why, maybe it’s coincidence, maybe it’s how they defend, but that’s, I don’t know what to say about that.”
The Cavs were without Dwyane Wade, who missed just his second game this season with left knee soreness. Lue had an elaborate plan for James to take Wade’s minutes as the backup point guard, which meant Tristan Thompson (remember him?) was Lue’s first man off the bench in the first quarter to give James an early rest.
Thompson missed a career-high 19 games with what the team said was a strained left calf. He didn’t score (or record a rebound, shot, assist or foul) in six minutes of the first quarter, and watched the second half from the locker room. Lue said before the game that Thompson was on a minutes restriction.
For those concerned about the rotation with Thompson’s return and Lue’s declaration that Frye would continue to play, Frye joined the game in the second quarter.
Taurean Prince paced the Hawks with 24 points. Kent Bazemore connected on six 3s and finished with 20 points.
Dennis Schroder, the Hawks’ top player this season, scored 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
The Cavs set the regular-season, single-game record for 3s on March 3, and the playoff single-game record in Game 2 of the 2016 Eastern Conference semifinals.
This was the 21st consecutive game in which the Cavs scored at least 100 points.
NEXT: The Cavs host the Los Angeles Lakers at 8 p.m. Thursday on TNT.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — LeBron James authored a spectacular performance — even for him — in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 123-114 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night at The Q.
As I watched the telecast on Fox Sports Ohio, I kept shaking my head. I didn’t think it was possible to play the game LeBron was playing. I should have known better, though. Anything is possible with LeBron on the court.
In 35 minutes, LeBron had 25 points, 17 assists, seven rebounds, two steals and two turnovers. He made 11 of 13 shots from the field. The assist total tied a career-high.
I can’t recall the previous time I saw such a combination of efficiency and proficiency at basketball’s highest level. By my count, LeBron assisted on shots that resulted in 42 points. It means that he scored or assisted on 67 points in 35 minutes while missing just two shots and committing just two turnovers.
LeBron did so at 6-8, 250 — in his 15th season. I don’t care that the opponent was the dreadful Hawks: This type of performance against anybody is beyond impressive.
On Tuesday, LeBron played his 28th game in a season that has M-V-P written all over it. LeBron is toying with the rest of the NBA in leading the injury-depleted Cavaliers to a 20-8 record.