The Cleveland Cavaliers are keeping the Eastern Conference standings at bay, strong-arming the conference lead at two and half games following a robust 120-108 win in Los Angeles on Thursday night, which was the last match-up between all-timers Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as Bryant has adamantly decided to retire.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 50 points, but it was Channing Frye’s efforts that stole the show.
In 24 minutes off the pine, Frye totaled 21 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal, finishing with his first significant output of the season with the Cavs. For those who like to see the Cavaliers win, or even general fans of the game, this is a promising spectacle, far from the alleged plight detractors were claiming a mere two weeks ago.
Frye made his presence immediately felt by knocking down a 24-foot three-pointer in the middle of the first quarter, compliments of LeBron. This continued through the third quarter, as Frye was able to make 80 percent of his field goals, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.
When Anderson Varejao cleared waivers in late February to end up on the Golden State Warriors, many Cleveland fans were in uproar, and, rightfully so, the Brazilian has been a Cavalier faithful ever since he was drafted by the team in 2004.
However, recently, Andy hasn’t been in the rotation mainly because of Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov dominating big minutes. Frankly, Andy’s job was lost when Thompson morphed into a rebounding machine throughout the 2015 playoffs and the NBA Finals, last year.
The lack of minutes for Andy illustrates the notion that he doesn’t fit what the Cavs are doing. Andy is a hustle guy, as well as a guy who can snatch rebounds, as shown with his career 7.4 rebounds a game. He also ran extremely well off the ball, oftentimes being the recipient of a pick-and-roll play.
Still, at this point, the Cavs need shooters. When LeBron was winning championships with the Miami Heat, he had shooters galore, including Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Chris Bosh and Norris Cole, just to name a few. Adding Frye not only replaces Andy as a big man, but fills a void of much needed shooting. The jury is still out, but, so far so good for the Cavs.
“Just think about if you put Channing and Kevin in the corner and run pick-and-roll with Bron, he’s the roller,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue previously said to cleveland.com. “Like, now, who you help off of? So, there’s a lot you can do with Channing out there. We’re just going to have to use him in different ways and use him so we can be effective.”
Next up, the Cavs will face a tough opponent in the undermanned Los Angeles Clippers 3:30 today on ABC. The marquee matchup: Razzle dazzle Kyrie Irving versus Mr. Point Guard himself Chris Paul.
The Quintessential Gentleman