LOS ANGELES – The Clippers jumped out of the gates Sunday, securing an early 17-7 lead with J.J. Redick leading the way. The Cavaliers – as expected – soon found their stride, hitting a season-high 18 three-pointers to win 114-90.
LeBron James led the way for Cleveland with 27 points, with J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving adding in 17 points apiece. Just as Irving continues to improve on a nightly basis for the Cavaliers, the emergence of Channing Frye over the past few games has been just as crucial for a roster looking to win the title.
Frye had 15 points on a season-high-tying five three-pointers as Cleveland won their third straight game, improving to 20-6 against teams in the Western Conference. Four of their six losses against this caliber of talent has been on the road.
“We are kind of getting in form right now,” James said following the game. “I think Coach [Tyronn] Lue has done a great job of finding out his rhythm, of finding out what he wants from us, and we are responding. We have a great rotation right now and guys are healthy, so we are just trying to play the game the right way.”
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 17 points and 10 assists, and J.J. Redick added 19 points as Blake Griffin missed his 35th straight game. Near the end of the first quarter, Cleveland began a run that would ultimately dictate the game, going on a 30-6 run that would go into the second quarter. Frye connected on three three-point baskets during this stretch, confirming the success of the recent move.
“The style of basketball we play, with LeBron [James] and Kyrie [Irving] pretty much making all the plays for us, guys are going to get open shots and open threes, and we have to make them,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said.
“I thought Channing [Frye] coming out and making those threes kind of became contagious. It kind of opened it up for everyone else, and everyone got confidence off Channing’s shot making. That is the way we are going to play, that is the way we have been playing, so guys have to step up and make shots.”
The Clippers had won five of seven games entering Sunday’s matchup, holding opponents to 43 percent shooting from the field. The Cavaliers shot over 48 percent from the field.
“[The upcoming road trip] will be a tough one,” Rivers said. “It is a strange trip. The back-to-backs and then where we have two days off – it is a quirky schedule. There is nothing you can do about it. They are all good teams; you just have to play well out there. The toughest test is the first one [against San Antonio Spurs].”
Los Angeles kicks off their five-game road trip in San Antonio on Sunday.