CLEVELAND -- During the free-agency era of professional sports, fans end up rooting for laundry more so than players, so the saying goes, because while the faces change, the names across the front of the uniforms remain the same.
Back in Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue's playing days, he was a part of eight franchises in 11 seasons. He had to purge his gear between stops.
"Threw it away," Lue said before the Cavs beat the Miami Heat 108-97 on Tuesday to run their win streak to nine games. "I mean, you keep your championship stuff. You won championships, you keep that stuff, but other than that, you got to get rid of it. Your family can't wear it, either."
Perhaps it was apropos then that the buildup of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade facing the Heat together for the first time as teammates was quickly replaced by the storyline of Kevin Love catching fire. Love's ignition made that nostalgia pretty irrelevant.
The Cavs big man scored 22 points in the first quarter -- the most he has scored in any quarter since he put up 34 in the first quarter of a game against Portland a year ago -- en route to 38 points in the game, and the Cavs buried Miami by halftime. Love finished just shy of his game high with the Cavs (40) and added nine rebounds. He still hasn't logged 40 points and 10 rebounds in a game in Cleveland, after doing so 10 times in his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
James, meanwhile, made some history, as he was ejected for the first time in his 15-year career for arguing a no-call in the third quarter. He finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals. James has now notched at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals six times in his career, according to ESPN Stats & Info. But only once in 1,082 career regular-season games has he been ejected.
Love had 32 points at the break to join James Harden and Steph Curry as the only players who have scored 30 in a half this season (Harden has done so twice).
The effort helped halt a tough trend for the Cavs in the early going, as they were 0-3 on the second night of back-to-backs this season, having lost by a combined 45 points. Cleveland led by as many as 34 points and never trailed on Tuesday. Wade finished with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists against his former team. Former Cavs guard Dion Waiters led Miami with 21 points and seven assists.
While Love owned the moment, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra allowed for some memories prior to tipoff.
"I think all those experiences hopefully make you better," Spoelstra said, looking back at the four Finals and two championships he was a part of with James and Wade. "I think it made all of us more resilient, thicker skin. We're able to zero in and focus in on the things that matter and tune out everything else. That becomes a muscle, like everything else. It's like going into the weight room: The first time you do it, it's uncomfortable being in that environment. Now being in something like this doesn't even faze you at all. More importantly, after a loss or when it gets tough, it gets a little bit uncomfortable, you build that muscle."
The Cavs have been flexing as of late, that's for sure.