Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Larry Hughes, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Clippers: Sam Cassell, Quinton Ross, Corey Maggette, Tim Thomas, Chris Kaman
--Hughes is back after missing three games, no minute restrictions. Devin Brown was out of the rotation before Larry got hurt. It will be interesting to see who loses minutes tonight. Damon Jones may be the guy, but he's played steady since the preseason. --Cuttino Mobley is out with a leg injury for the Clippers. So is Elton Brand, who has a torn Achilles --Kaman is third in the NBA in rebounds, Ilgauskas is fourth. Both are also good offensive rebounders. Keep an eye on that battled tonight, Kaman has been playing great and one of the main reasons the Clippers are 4-1. --Ruben Patterson has been effective in guarding LeBron for periods in the past and the Cavs have had trouble guarding him when he plays power forward. He could be an X factor. --Clippers are a good 3-point shooting team, if the Cavs are late in their rotations, they will pay.
Halftime -- Cavs 50, Clippers 44 --The Clippers are having a classic coming home game, they look low on energy and sloppy. It happens coming off long road trips and if you don't believe me wait until you see the Cavs Wednesday. The Cavs can win this game if they want it, but I'm not sure yet. This second half in a way may define whether this is a successful trip or not. --The Cavs offense has been much better tonight than in Sac. They've got 28 points in the paint and 15 free throws, they are driving it and pushing it. Mike Brown used his practice time here well. --LeBron is really working on Quinton Ross, who is giving up 60, yes 60, pounds to him. If he keeps posting him up he will continue to have success. LeBron has four steals in the first half, by the way. --Larry Hughes has come back and played well, making 4-of-5 shoots. Devin Brown has also done well of the bench, right not Sasha is the odd man out. --Maggette is having his way with 18 points, the Cavs may need to alter their defense on him a bit. He's getting open lanes and getting to the line. He also has six boards. --Ilgauskas has just two rebounds in the first half, but Gooden has 12. Could easily reverse in the second half.
Postgame -- Cavs 103, Clippers 95
Stars LeBron James, 22 points, eight assists and six picks...He was in complete control in the fourth Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 25 points...In a great rhythm Drew Gooden, 18 points, 17 boards...who'd have thought Ira Newble would prevent him from going 20/20 Sam Cassell, 29 points on 19 shots...he's still got it
--There is one game left, but the Cavs have to consider this road trip a success. The Clippers went after it in the second half and the Cavs handled it. They played in the fourth quarter like they were 100 percent sure they were going to win. If the ending had gone different in Utah this thing may really have been special. --LeBron had five assists (one for a 3) and two baskets in the fourth quarter, meaning he was responsible for 15 points. Yet the way he did it was more impressive than if he'd scored them all by himself. The Cavs actually ran offense instead of standing around in the fourth quarter and the Clippers couldn't cover it. --The Cavs had 54 points in the paint tonight, a season-high. They also shot a season-best 51 percent. These numbers are related. --Ilgauskas' rebound streak ended tonight, but he really played his best offensive game of the season with 13 points in the fourth quarter. Chris Kaman ate him up in the third and he responded by outplaying him at both ends down the stretch. --The Cavs' opponents are shooting 36 percent in the fourth quarter in their wins. Tonight the Clippers shot 35. --Devin Brown and Damon Jones combined for 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Newble had eight rebounds in 15 minutes after he had seven in Phoenix. How long can the bench keep this up? Larry Hughes, Daniel Gibson, and Drew Gooden did even play in the fourth, and it wasn't their fault. --The Cavs were 4-0 in Cali last year and they're 3-0 this year. --Oh, um, the Cavs were 16-of-27 at the foul line and 2-6 in the last minute. --Hughes look pretty good in his return with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. But he was limping pretty bad in the second half. Sasha Pavlovic also had back spasms and Brown looked like he tweaked a leg muscle late in the game. Come back tomorrow for the injury report. --When I looked at the Cavs schedule at the start of training camp, I said the best-case scenario is them starting 4-4. After the preseason, my expectations were lowered. They have continued to get better every game, shown more confidence, and the offense has started to come around even with all sorts of injuries and a constantly changing big-man rotation. --O.J. Mayo was hanging out in the hallway outside the Cavs locker room after the game. He got a steady stream of hellos from players, agent-types, hangers on, and even a handshake from Mike Brown. Meanwhile, nobody seemed to pay any attention to Penny Marshall.
Quotes Mike Brown: "When our defense shows up, we give ourselves a pretty good chance to win and it showed up in the fourth. LeBron: "This is the best offensively that we have played in three years. The way we are getting the ball upcourt, sharing the ball, and getting into our rhythm, this is the best we've played this season. Mike Dunleavy: "Ilgauskas made some big shots. They set him up with LeBron penetration and we had to help."