Suns 110, Cavs 108
--There's two ways to look at this game. The Cavs got totally outplayed in the second half. They let a soft defensive team with no basket defender be more physical than them and take them out of their rhythm. They regressed on offense in the second half to last year with LeBron just dribbling and hoping for something to develop. Then there's the other way: It took the Suns hitting a record 17 3-pointers just to beat the Cavs by two points and LeBron had two layups fall out of the rim in the fourth. I think both are vaild. --First half: 20 free throws, 14 assists, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 17 points. Second half: seven free throws, 35 percent shooting, seven assists, Z had four points. This is my point. --A huge turning pointing in the game was the turnovers in the third quarter. The Cavs had three in the first half and six in the third and it seemed to give the Suns energy and take the Cavs out of what they had been doing. If a few bounces go their way in the fourth, the Cavs could've won but the Suns outplayed them down the stretch. LeBron James let Leandro Barbosa and Raja Bell rough him up. --LeBron was angry about the last play of the game because the design got messed up. He wanted Larry Hughes to throw him the ball no matter what. Also, the Suns had a foul to give and so Daniel Gibson got tackled by Steve Nash but there was no call. Boobie tried to show the contact because a foul before the inbounds would've been two shots and it ended up taking him out of the play and he was the second option. That's why he kicked over the trash can. --LeBron told me that the wrap on his left knee was for a floor burn, but he seemed to be in a lot of discomfort for just a burn. Maybe he should've consulted Chris Jent for how to deal with it. --I give Mike D'Antoni lots of credit for the winning basket. The Cavs had their offensive team in so not calling a timeout was wise. You had Zydrunas Ilgauskas ending up on Shawn Marion, mismatch that led to the winning points.
Pregame Starting lineups
Suns: Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Grant Hill, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire Cavs: Larry Hughes, Ira Newble, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
--You read that right, Ira is starting in place of Sasha Pavlovic. It is mildly surprising but you have to understand two things, Ira will probably only play around 12-15 minutes and Mike Brown is guarding his crafted rotation very carefully. Because he's a big guard, Newble is a close match to Pavlovic although not the offensive threat. But Mike hasn't play Ira at guard all season, having him mostly guard power forwards. This is a tough first test. --The Cavs haven't beaten the Suns in two seasons largely because they simply don't have the offense to keep up with them. We'll see if the great ball movement from the other night carries over, if it does they have a chance. A huge factor will be rebounding, the Cavs will win it but will they do it on the offensive end and prevent the Suns from fastbreaking is the issue. --This road trip has taken Phoenix to Milwaukee, where they barely won, Minnesota, where they lost, and now here. I think they'd much rather be back in Arizona right now.
Halftime -- Cavs 69, Suns 56
--Two major stats to look at: Cavs have 14 more shots and 10 nine more rebounds. Lots of extra possessions. Turnovers, Cavs: 3. Which is why the fastbreak points are: Suns 10, Cavs 9. This is how you beat the Suns. We'll see if it lasts. --In the first half a couple times the Suns doubled Zydrunas Ilgauskas and left LeBron 1-on-1. Talk about a dream Cavs scenario. Just tells you how the Suns defend the basket. --Phoenix can make up leads in no time with their 3-point shooting, but they have to be concerned that they are 9-of-19 from behind the line and still down 13. That's what happens when you give up 70 points in a half. --Cavs assistant Mike Malone just got some extra respect from the players. The bench was chirping at Raja Bell for flopping late in the first half. When there was a timeout Bell came over to the bench and starting talking back and, I think, flicked someone off. Malone got up in his face and, I guess, told him to go away. After the timeout, players were lining up to give props to Malone. What can I say, he's a firey Irishman.
Stars Steve Nash, 26 points, nine assists Raja Bell, 27 points, four assists Amare Stoudemire, 22 points, six rebounds LeBron James, 36 points, seven rebounds Larry Hughes, 25 points, eight rebounds Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 21 points, 10 rebounds
Quotes LeBron: "It was a great game with both teams trying to execute at the end. They just made one more play." Mike D'Antoni: "We shot 54 percent, 51 percent from three and needed every bit of it." Mike Brown: "They are a smart team, they know how to hold, they know how to grab and they know how to get away with it.”