CLEVELAND -- After seeing his team fall apart in the second half for the third straight game, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said his team must go through All-Star big man Kevin Love when its offense starts to sputter.
"Post the basketball," Lue said of his preferred solution when the Cavs go through dry spells like they did Wednesday, when they nearly blew a 20-point halftime lead before escaping with a 104-103 victory over the struggling Orlando Magic.
Love finished with 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting with 11 rebounds and 2 assists. He had only four shot attempts in the second half as the Cavs shot just 13-for-40 as a team (32.5 percent). Three Cavs players had more attempts than him after halftime -- Isaiah Thomas (nine), LeBron James (seven) and Jeff Green (seven) -- and Derrick Rose tied him with four shot attempts.
"I know Kevin is playing the 5 and sometimes he has 5s guarding him, but we still got to be able to get him touches and involve him in the game," Lue said. "I thought tonight he was great defensively, but we didn't use him as much as we should have. But he still played through the game, and I thought he was great. But even in those offensive lulls, we got to still post him against 5s and just see what he can do down there."
Cleveland had 19 assists on 25 made field goals in the first half followed by just three assists on 13 made baskets in the second half.
Love, taking a page out of former teammate Kyrie Irving's playbook (and Kobe Bryant's before Irving), returned to the court at Quicken Loans Arena shortly after the final buzzer to get up more shots, working up a full lather after he had already logged 31 minutes in the game.
"[Wednesday] we had a good practice and we moved the ball extremely well," Love said. "Feel like when we do that we're such a better team. There's just times where we have lapses, where it's either on one side of the floor or we're not getting those paint touches, so I don't think it's just that. I think it's all of us playing together, moving that ball and playing for one another."
In the six games that Love has played alongside Thomas, he has attempted 15 shots or more just once. In the 37 games he played without Thomas this season, Love attempted 15 shots or more 17 times.
"Collectively, as a group, we've got to do a better job knowing that," said Thomas, who finished with 21 points on 6-for-15 shooting. "Two or three times down, knowing we haven't gotten a good shot, we need the ball moving, we need the ball to move side to side. Or we need to find the best shot possible. We can't continue to just take one-pass shots, if that's the case.
"But we'll figure it out. We got to figure it out [still]. But we will."