When you are trying to contain the force that is LeBron James, you have to give up something. Sunday, that something was Channing Frye.
Frye is a backup big man for the Cleveland Cavaliers with 3-point shooting range. He opened up what had been a tight game with 11 fourth-quarter points, as the Cavs beat the Charlotte Hornets 100-93 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Superstar James missed 10 of his first 13 shots in this game, in part thanks to exceptional defense by Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker finished with 21 points, extending his streak of games with 20 or more points to eight. Frye finished with 20 points, which James finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The Hornets have now lost consecutive games for the first time this season, falling to 6-3. The Cavaliers improved to 8-1.
Three who mattered
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: He played tremendous defense throughout against Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. He finished with a double-double in points and rebounds.
Kyrie Irving: The former Duke point guard made some huge jump shots from start to finish, despite early foul trouble.
Marco Belinelli: He led the bench in the second quarter on a run to eat up a 10-point deficit.
▪ The Hornets got back Kidd-Gilchrist, who missed Friday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors with a lower back strain. Kidd-Gilchrist started Sunday after telling coach Steve Clifford this was the best he’s felt in weeks.
▪ The only Hornet still out with an injury was guard-forward Jeremy Lamb (hamstring). For the first time since suffering that injury, Lamb was able to do some non-contact drills Saturday. Clifford thinks Lamb has a chance to play Friday against the Atlanta Hawks.
▪ It will probably be several games before center Roy Hibbert is ready to play substantial minutes. Hibbert felt some soreness in his right knee after playing Friday against the Raptors.
▪ The bench got the Hornets back in the game after they fell behind by 10. Reserves scored 24 of Charlotte’s 44 first-half points.
▪ The Hornets took only five free throws in the first half. They average 27 free-throw attempts per game this season.
▪ The Cavaliers played without shooting guard J.R. Smith, who suffered an ankle injury Friday at Washington. Mike Dunleavy started in place of Smith.
▪ Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing missed Sunday’s game because of an illness.
▪ Clifford drew a technical foul in the second quarter.
B- OFFENSE: Not every opponent will be that effective at trapping Kemba Walker.
B DEFENSE: They contained James effectively for most of this game.
B COACHING: A solid gameplan to compete in a place where this franchise has constantly struggled.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell