SACRAMENTO (AP) — Kevin Love didn’t make much of his 700th career 3-pointer, even though it was part of a pivotal four-point play.
The way Love has been playing the last few weeks, he wasn’t about to make a big deal of the shot with 1:32 remaining that helped Cleveland to a 120-111 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
Teammate J.R. Smith saw it differently and thinks it might be just the thing to get Love going again.
“More than anything I think we needed it as a team,” Smith said. “All it does take is one shot. Fortunately it was a big enough shot to where he can feel comfortable with his game. It does help us.”
Kyrie Irving scored 30 points while LeBron James had 25 points and 11 rebounds, one of three Cleveland players with a double-double. Tristan Thompson added 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Love finished with 17 points and 10 boards.
DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who trailed 109-100 with under 5 minutes to play before using an 8-0 run to close within one.
After Love made a pair of free throws to end its drought, Cleveland got the ball back but missed several open looks. Love, who missed six of his first seven shots from beyond the arc, got the ball back in the right corner just seconds after missing a wide-open attempt and came through with his clutch shot while being fouled.
Darren Collison fouled Love, who made the ensuing free throw to put the Cavs up 115-108.
“The last half-dozen games I haven’t shot the ball particularly well, so that was a big break for us,” said Love, who was just 4 of 13, including 2 of 8 from 3-point range.
“It was a big shot but I’ve done it in my career, shooting from the outside, so I’m not going to act like it’s the biggest thing in the world. But it was a big shot for us tonight.”
Smith followed Love’s play with a 3-pointer and James added two free throws to close out Cleveland’s first win at Sleep Train Arena since beating the Kings 97-93 on March 16, 2011.
The win sets the stage for the Cavs’ nostalgic trip to Los Angeles on Thursday in what will be the final matchup between James and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.
“I’ve recorded it multiple times of what he’s meant for my career, what he’s meant for the Lakers organization, and the NBA,” James said of the upcoming matchup with Bryant. “It will be an opportunity tomorrow to go again against one of the greats.”
Cleveland shot 40.9 percent in the first half, most of it from the perimeter. The Cavs missed 15 of their first 20 3-point attempts and made only three shots outside of the paint in the second quarter.
“We do a lot of good things for extended periods of time, then we hit a black hole,” Kings coach George Karl said. “They didn’t miss a lot of shots but it was the offensive rebounds, scramble situations, where we didn’t come up with loose balls. It’s kind of frustrating.”
COUSINS, KARL CLASH
Cousins had some heated words for Karl during a timeout in the fourth quarter. Sacramento’s big man, who earlier picked up his 15th technical foul of the season, appeared to be upset at Karl for not arguing foul calls more before assistant coach Corliss Williamson and guard Rajon Rondo intervened. Neither Cousins nor Karl commented on the situation afterward.
LUE’S FIRST TECHNICAL
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was still unsure what led to his first technical foul of the season. Lue was trying to call in a play from the opposite end of the arena when he was called for stepping onto the court. “I didn’t read the memo, that’s how I got a tech,” Lue said. “He said I crossed halfcourt or stepped onto the floor.”
Cavaliers: Timofey Mozgov was held out of the game because of a lingering illness. Mozgov has been ill since early in the week and did not play in the second half of Monday’s loss to Memphis.
Kings: Caron Butler, playing in his first game since Dec. 21, gave Sacramento an immediate boost with seven points in the second quarter. He had been idle the past two months despite being healthy. ... Ben McLemore (broken right ring finger), Marco Belinelli (back spasms) and Seth Curry (sprained right foot) did not play.
Cavaliers: At Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
Kings: Host Orlando on Friday.