Cleveland Cavaliers Win Central Division Title Behind LeBron James’ Triple-Double Performance [Highlights]
The Cleveland Cavaliers won the Central Division title for the second consecutive season via a 124-91 victory against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
James paced the Cavaliers with his 41st career-triple double, finishing with 33 points on 12-for-19 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds and 11 assists. The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player also helped the Cavaliers win their 50th game this season and improved their record to league’s third-best 50-20.
“It’s not given every year, obviously, that you can win a division title, win 50 games in a league where it’s so hard to win,” James said via ESPN. “I’ve been fortunate to do it a few times so it’s a great thing for our franchise and a great thing for our guys here and it’s something that you can always talk about when you’re done playing ball.”
The Cavaliers played without All-Star power forward Kevin Love who was unavailable due to illness, while Kyrie Irving struggled to get into his rhythm, finishing with just eight points on 4-for-12 shooting. Good thing for the Cavaliers, JR Smith added 15 points, Channing Frye chipped in 14 markers, while Matthew Dellavedova scored 10 points.
The Cavaliers, who are coming off a humiliating 122-101 defeat to the Miami Heat, vented their ire on the Nuggets, as they unleashed a huge rally in the first half, which ended with the Cavaliers ahead 38-23.
The Nuggets managed to trim the lead down to eight at the half, but the Cavaliers took control again in the second half, particularly in the final period, where they scored 37 points against Denver’s 19 en route to the blowout win.
Nuggets coach Mike Malone blasted his team after the game, saying that they quitted in the second half, which is a no-no against a team who went two games short from winning the NBA title last season.
“It was embarrassing,” Malone said of their performance. “An embarrassing effort. A very good team, obviously, a team that went to the Finals, but I thought in the second half we quit. I haven’t seen that from our team most of the year. I’m very disappointed.”
With the loss, the Nuggets dropped to 29-42, which is just good for tenth place in the Western Conference standings. They are now 6.5 games behind the eight-placed Dallas Mavericks and 5.5 games behind the ninth-placed Utah Jazz in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.