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Wrap-Up -- The Heat might have utilized their kryptonite-like powers against LeBron James on Tuesday night in Miami. But the four-time MVP definitely regained his superpowers when the Cavs rolled into Charlotte on Wednesday.
James reached another historical milestone – tying Michael Jordan’s mark for scoring consistency – while getting his squad back on the winning track, going off for 41 points as the Cavaliers won for the sixth time in their last seven outings, taking a 118-105 decision on Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center.
After a sluggish first quarter (for both LeBron and the Cavs), the tide turned almost immediately in the second.
In that second period, the 14-time All-Star netted 16 points and in the process extended his streak of double-digit scoring games to 866 straight – tying him with Hornets chairman Michael Jordan (not in attendance) for the longest run in NBA history.
But LeBron wasn’t the only one to break out in that second quarter, as the Wine & Gold notched a season-high 42 points in the period – shooting 71 percent from the floor and taking a double-digit halftime lead that they wouldn’t relinquish after intermission.
The Hornets came into the contest having rattled off four straight wins – likely needing to run the table to reach the postseason. Cleveland put a major dent into their ambitions on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers ended their road trip with a 2-1 mark with now just seven games remaining in the regular season.
On the night, LeBron went 14-for-26 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from long-range, and was 9-of-11 from the stripe – adding a team-high 10 boards and a game-high eight assists.
JR Smith turned in one of his best games of the season – netting 19 points off the bench, going 8-of-9 from the floor while attempting just a pair of three-pointers, adding five boards, three assists and three steals in the win.
Jeff Green continued his consistent play in the starting lineup – finishing with 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting. Rodney Hood also kept his roll going, tallying double-figures in his third straight game – chipping in with 13 points and five boards after being reinserted into the starting lineup.
JR Smith adds 19 points off the bench to fuel the Cavs win in Charlotte.
The Wine & Gold got rookie Cedi Osman back after a nine-game layoff with a hip injury, but were still without Kyle Korver – still out following the death of his younger brother – and Kevin Love – who’s in the NBA’s concussion protocol after having his front tooth knocked loose the previous evening against Miami.
Charlotte’s Kemba Walker also made history on Wednesday night – albeit in a losing effort. In the final moments of the game, Walker notched his 21st point, moving him ahead of Dell Curry as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 9,841 career points.
With the win, the Wine & Gold have come out on top in six of their last seven visits to Tobacco Road and have now swept the season series over the Hornets in three of the last four years.
Turning Point -- Both teams shot poorly in the first quarter of Wednesday’s affair – shooting a combined 33 percent from the floor and 1-for-14 from beyond the arc.
The Hornets led by four after that ugly opening period and improved their edge to six early in the second. But halfway through the quarter, the King took over – scoring six straight points to tie the game at 45-apiece.
After Cleveland took a slight edge, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s short jumper tied the game again with 4:19 to play before half. That’s as good as it would get for the Hornets.
Behind LeBron and JR Smith, the Cavaliers proceeded to go on a 15-3 run – upping their advantage to a dozen points and taking a 10-point lead into the locker room.
The Hornets would get within single digits only once more the rest of the way.
By the Numbers – 20 … career games of at least 30 points against the Hornets, surpassing – who else? – Michael Jordan as the all-time leader.
Quotable – LeBron James, on tying Michael Jordan’s record in Wednesday’s win …
”I’m just going out and I’m trying to be productive; I can’t even tell you how I’ve been able to do it. It’s not like I go into every game saying, ‘Okay, I’ve got to get 10 points this game.’ It just kind of organically happens. Any time I’m mentioned with some of the greats, and arguably the greatest basketball player of all time in Mike, it’s just another feat for me to be just appreciative and humbled by what I’m able to do.”
Up Next -- With their last long trip of the season in the rearview mirror following Wednesday’s victory in Charlotte, the Wine & Gold return for a four-game homestand – beginning with a Friday night matchup against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans to wrap up the month of March. On Easter Sunday, the Mavericks come to town followed by a rematch with the Raptors on Tuesday night and a nationally-televised visit by the Wizards on Thursday. Cleveland hits the road for a potentially big battle with the Sixers in Philly on Friday before wrapping up the regular season with a home-and-home matchup versus the Knicks.