Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Ron Garretson, Derrick Collins, Zach Zarba
--So everyone is talking about Bumpgate. Well, nobody here because it is a complete non-story, but it was an interesting piece of video that was great fodder for the commentary shows today. Well, it happened about 15 feet from me. In case you missed it, LeBron and Mike Brown bumped into each other in the fourth quarter of the Knicks loss. Both men had scowls on their face when it happened, so it looked like something. What really happened was, LeBron was complaining to official Greg Williard about a call. As he was doing that, Nate Robinson made a layup as all the Cavs watched...including LeBron. That upset Brown, who called timeout. He was angry about that and was walking out to meet with his coaches and LeBron was still angry at Williard and they bumped into each other. That's it. I saw it live and didn't think about it for a second. If anything, I'd point to the second quarter when LeBron was yelling at the bench during a timeout as an incident, but that wasn't on film. Here are the quotes, though:
Brown: "It was one guy looking one way and he was looking the other," Brown said. I was kind of shocked when somebody told me (it was an issue). "If LeBron has a message for me, he'll come tell me and if I have a message for him I'll go to him. I think we have a great relationship." LeBron: "I didn’t know nothing about it until somebody just told it to me," James said. "So no issue."
--The Lakers are a more complete team than the Cave right now, especially off the bench. I assume Bynum will be licking his chops after watching the Cavs interior defense last night. It likely won't just be about Kobe, they've been winning with good team efforts. --We'll see if the Cavs come back tonight looking to get pride back on national television. In the past, I'd have said yes. Looking at the attitude on this team of late, I just don't know.
Halftime -- Lakers 53, Cavs 51 --Nope, this isn't going to work. Lakers shooting 53 percent and Kobe is just 4-of-10. Cavs are trading baskets and allowing lots of easy shots. Maybe they get by somehow tonight, but if they don't start playing better defense it won't last. --This is the best Anderson Varejao has played since he's been back. Not only is his jumping better, his timing seems to be back. Let's see if he can keep his wind. He's got four steals in the first half. --LeBron had 19 points on 13 shots and is looking like he really wants to win. Still he's posting up too far from the hoop and dribbling a lot. He had just two assists in the first half, he needs to look to get the ball moving more. --This is the best Lamar Odom has played in weeks, he's 7-of-8. He's a hard cover but he's not this good.
Postgame -- Cavs 94, Lakers 90 Stars LeBron James, 33 points, 10 rebounds Anderson Varejao, 11 points, 15 rebounds, four steals Kobe Bryant, 21 points, five rebounds Lamar Odom, 19 points, 11 rebounds
--Pretty exciting finish for a game in December. Kobe and LeBron were guarding each other down the stretch, each of them telling their coaches and teammates they wanted the other guy. LeBron said he told Sasha "go defend someone else." Not the best shot for Kobe to take at the end, a long 3-pointer over a taller defender, but he's made thousands of those shots in his life and probably a handful to win games. His groin was bothering him and he said it limited him from driving, he didn't look as active as usual. --I hear lots of complaining about officials and the Cavs getting the short end of the stick, which as you know I ignore. The Cavs got a favorable call off Kobe's miss, Derek Fisher slammed Daniel Gibson, but Boobie didn't have position on that play. Coud've gone the other way. --Ok, so the reason the Cavs won tonight was because of defense, of course. They got down 11 in the third quarter it looked like a carbon copy of so many other Cavs games this season. The Lakers were shooting 54 percent after three quarters. But you could just plainly see the changeover, they started showing more energy and contesting more passes and next thing you know the Lakers are taking long, contested jumpers and the Cavs are getting rebounds and running. Bam, 16-0 run and much of it was with LeBron on the bench. Lakers shot 5-of-22 in the fourth, that is why the Cavs won. --The offense is regressing, though. That includes LeBron, he had 33 points but he was not good in the second half. Boy, it was like a throwback to last year with him dribbling so much and standing around. The Cavs shot just 35 percent in the second half and won. --The bench was huge in this game. Varejao had 11 points and 15 rebounds and was a factor on almost every defensive possession. That was him at his best and it could be a sign that he's back to form. If he played like that most nights, he would be worth $9 million a season. Devin Brown had eight points and two rebounds and a big steal and dunk in the fourth. Although when he's running the point, it's downright scary. Even Larry Hughes, who was booed by the crowd tonight, did a good job on defense in the fourth. --The Cavs had just 11 turnovers tonight and were 23-of-30 at the foul line. They have been improving in both those areas of late. --The Cavs had 25 second chance points tonight. Jeez, defense and rebounding and a low-scoring victory. Bad, LeBron dribble-heavy offense. Just like old times, eh?
Quotes Kobe: "I look forward to those matchups, that's what I do as a defensive player." LeBron: "If you want to win ballgames, you have to be able to defend the best player. I think we both took on the challenge." Derek Fisher: "I felt I got to the ball first and there was contact. But I had two hands on the basketball, so had a pushed (Gibson) first, then pushed him, it would've been a foul."