Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilguaskas Wolves: Marko Jaric, Rashad McCants, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Michael Doleac
Officials: Jack Nies, Courtney Kirkland, Eli Roe
--Randy Wittman changed his starting lineup for the Cavs, putting Gomes in ahead of rookie Corey Brewer and Doleac in instead of Antoine Walker. He doesn't want the rookie, who is having defensive issues against bigger players, against LeBron. Doleac is in there to deal with Z. --Jefferson could really give the Cavs problems tonight. He's a really good back to the basket scorer and he racks up fouls. Dwayne Jones is going to have to give the team something and I don't mean five fouls in four minutes. --The Wolves are not a good team and a poor defensive team. The Cavs need to apply pressure with drives and moving offense and they will get all the points the need. Bigger issue is defense, especially keeping Jefferson under control and not losing track of Walker, who can kill you if he's left open from the outside.
Halftime -- Cavs 46, Bucks 42
--Cavs started playing much better defense in the second quarter when Eric Snow came into the game. Not to say he made the difference, but he was +7 in his seven minutes on the floor. After the Wolves shot 57 percent in the first quarter, they shot 6-of-23 in the second quarter as the Cavs really contested shots and were pretty good in their rotations. --The downfall for the Cavs has been rebounding. The Wolves are the second best rebounding team in the league -- CLARIFICATION: They give up the second fewest total rebounds -- and they have five more rebounds and four more offensive rebounds. Their 10 second-chance points have helped them stay in the game despite not shooting well of late. --LeBron could get 50 tonight if he stays hot from outside. The officials are giving him calls and the matchups all favor him. --Before the game, I asked LeBron about his free-throw shooting because he'd hit 31-of-37. I told him I wasn't trying to jinx him but after he started 2-of-5 he stared over at me on press row. Oh well. He's got 23 points, it's not like he's in the tank or anything. However the Cavs are 8-of-15 at the line. --Dwayne Jones got five rebounds in 15 minutes and played pretty good defense. He was a part of the second quarter turnaround, too. --Al Jefferson has great post moves and is really developing into a star. He's got 18 points and I'm not sure how the Cavs can guard him without bringing double teams, which they may want to consider. --Look for the Cavs to get Daniel Gibson in the game more in the second half and take advantage of the mismatches with Ilgauskas. Big Z has just three shots and for a time he was being guarded by rookie Chris Richard.
Postgame --Cavs 97, Wolves 86
Stars: LeBron James, 45 points, 6-of-10 on 3-pointers, eight rebounds Al Jefferson, 30 points, eight rebounds Drew Gooden, 17 points, nine rebounds
--In case no one is paying attention -- and I'm getting the impression much of the country isn't at the moment --LeBron is playing some of the best basketball of his career. He was on cruise control tonight and he still put up 45. Obviously when he's making his outside shots it's over, it always has been. But he would've had 35 tonight even if he wasn't drilling his 3s. He mixed up his drives and his jumpers very well, which made him hard for the Wolves to guard. He had 45 points on 26 shots, that's remarkable. Four straight games of 34 or more points and he's leading the NBA in scoring at 30 points a game. --Al Jefferson is going to be a stud. Gee am I glad I voted him most improved player last year. His post moves are fantastic. --Antonie Walker was hoisting threes, Gerald Green was having a career game in a loss and Jefferson will killing in the post. Yet the Cavs still won. I had to pinch myself, I thought I was in Boston. --Cavs played really good defense in the second and third quarters. First and fourth...not so much. Baby steps on that end. But, along with LeBron, that defense is why they won. Wolves started 12-of-20 and then went 13-of-39 largely because the Cavs were forcing contested jumpers. 86 points, that is in the Cavs' zone. --Cavs turned around the rebounding in the second half, won the battle 42-37 and won the second-chance points battle 17-12. Again, this is a mark of them playing their style of game. Plus all the long rebounds off those contested jumpers helped them rack up 15 fastbreak points. --If Dwayne Jones played half as well as his did tonight -- 10 rebounds, four points in 24 minutes -- he'd really help the Cavs. I am not yet convinced. --Daniel Gibson has 14 assists in the three games at PG since Larry Hughes went down. That's got to be a career high in a three-game stretch. He's working and he's improving at point guard. --I've said this before and I'll say it again, they play they have the best music selection in the NBA at the Target Center. The topoff was playing Purple Rain at the end of the game.
Quotes Mike Brown: "LeBron's an amazing talent, I don't know how he keeps doing what he does. I'm watching him and I get exhausted." LeBron: "We call these trap games. When you come into an environment and think just because the team hasn't played well and young that you can win. But did a great job of not falling into the trap." Devin Brown: "LeBron is something special when he gets goin' like that...you just sit back."
Happy Thanksgiving all you loyal blog readers. Be thinking of me when you sleep in tomorrow and are ready to eat as I wake up at 5 a.m. to get a flight and pray the weather in Chicago holds.