As LeBron James retold the tale of his hook shot that beat the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night, he remembered poor Brook Lopez. Lopez, the Nets’ 7-footer and leading scorer in the game, was the defender rendered helpless by James’ Magic Johnson impression. James floated his running, baby hook with 1.9 seconds left over Johnson that forged a 90-88 victory for the Cavs. “Brook, he did not think in his wildest years that I was gonna shoot that one,” James said.
James’ response to Love’s benching was crucial. After all, at shootaround Friday Love said, “In a lot of ways before you can lead a game, you’ve got to learn to follow. If there’s going to be anyone in the league you’re going to do that with it’s going to be LeBron.” James was diplomatic. He credited Love for how he played when he was in there. He credited Blatt for having a “good feel for the game” in his substitution patterns. And he credited the Cavs’ fourth-quarter lineup that had him paired with J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and Richard Jefferson for virtually the entire period for finishing the job.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were rallying in the fourth quarter, trying to end their three-game losing skid on the road. That’s when Kevin Love, glued to his cushioned seat on the Cavs’ bench since the end of the third quarter, walked toward head coach David Blatt and delivered a message. “I told Coach I was ready, but keep those guys in, see what they can do,” Love said following the 95-90 win against the Charlotte Hornets. “I just thought we were doing a great job. That team was rolling, those five that we had out there were rolling in the fourth. They did a great job.”
“He wants to win,” Richard Jefferson told cleveland.com of Love’s latest sacrifice. “I think all of the talk about him going other places and this and that, he knew this gave him his best opportunity to win and win now. That’s another indication of who he is as a person and player. For him to let guys ride — obviously as a competitor you want to be in there — but winning is most important. Winning is more important than numbers and winning is more important than anything. He’s a good basketball mind and if he sees guys playing well he’s going to try to ride that.”