AUBURN HILLS, MICH.: Kevin Love said he didn’t need any extra motivation after he was left off the All-Star team this week, but he certainly appeared motivated against the Detroit Pistons.
Love scored 29 points and made five 3-pointers in the Cavaliers’ 114-106 victory Friday night at the Palace. He was aggressive in looking for his shot early and quickly heated up from 3-point range. The 29 points were the most he has scored in more than two months and was easily his best offensive night since Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup last month.
LeBron James had 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Irving had 28 points and two assists.
As the Cavs continue to overhaul their offense in an effort to create better pace, it was their most balanced and effective scoring night for their Big Three all season. It was also the first time all three stars scored at least 20 points in the same game this season.
It happened to come one day after Love was left off the Eastern Conference list of reserves as voted on by the conference coaches, although he could still be added later as an injury replacement.
“I was surprised that Kevin Love didn’t make it,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But they have three All-Stars.”
The Cavs have won their past three games entering Saturday’s showdown against the San Antonio Spurs and appear to at least be figuring things out offensively. They led by 20 late in the third quarter Friday after two Matthew Dellavedova free throws, and although the Pistons trimmed the deficit to single digits late, they never really threatened the lead in the fourth.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue recently showed the players a stat correlating the number of passes they make per possession with a higher shooting percentage. Irving seemed to dismiss the significance of the stat following Wednesday’s win and Lue implied Friday the stat doesn’t necessarily apply to his point guard — at least not right now.
Lue pulled Irving aside before Friday’s game and told him to be aggressive looking for his shot and get back to playing the way he is capable. Irving responded with 19 shots — his most in more than two weeks.
“I just want him to attack,” Lue said. “Attack first and if it opens up to an assist, then we’ll make the play. But I just don’t think nobody can stop him one-on-one, so I just want him to get back to being confident and playing the way he’s capable of playing.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.