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Gameblog: Cavs at Chicago Bulls

By George Thomas Published: January 15, 2009

Apologies for no halftime analysis, but I was working on getting news of Delonte West's injury and let's face it, if you're a Cavs' fan it's not good.
It's easy to look at West's 12 points per game, four assists and the rest of it and say that those numbers are replaceable, but there are other factors to deal with here.
This loss could be as big as losing Zydrunas Ilgauskas, primarily because West brings other intangibles to the game.  Those 12 points can be made up in other ways, but what about West's defense?
Other than LeBron James he might be the team's most consistent defender this season, taking on bigger, taller shooting guards in the league and rarely, if ever, truly getting lit up.
He's a crafty, intelligent ball player who plays defense that way, often blanketing opponents and still managing not to get called for a foul.
And for a while there, after his injury, the Cavaliers looked just a wee bit lost and, I'd argue, they missed his defense down the stretch with the game on the line and clinging to a very narrow lead.
So what next?  Who's got to step up?  I suspect you see Sasha Pavlovic move into that starting role and Daniel Gibson will still come off the bench, primarily because Mike Brown has consistently said that Gibson plays better in that particular role.
But if Cavs fans are honest and realistic, Pavlovic will have some big sneakers to fill because defensively, he's not West and he's never played as consistently as him.
After the game LeBron James had this look of resignation on his face as if something was slipping away from him with this wave of injuries.  He could be right, but the Cavs believed when the season started that they had a very deep bench.  Now, they get to find out just how true that is.
Mike Brown on Delonte West's injury:

That is just part of basketball.  We just have to have the other guys step up.  Tonight I rode some guys for too long which is something you can have a tendency to do when an injury like that occurs.
LeBron James on the Cavs' injury bug:
They say all teams go through this at some time.  It just seems our team is going through it with our starters and not just for two or three days.  Z is out for a month, Ben is out and now Delonte for how long.  It's a real challenge.  We just have to go out there and do it.
Game:  Cavs (30-6) at Chicago Bulls (16-22)
Broadcast:  TV: FSOhio, TNT WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Lorenzen Wright (F); Anderson Varejao (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G).  Bulls:  Tyrus Thomas (F); Luol Deng (F); Joakim Noah (C); Ben Gordon (G); Derrick Rose (G). Injured-inactive: Cavs: Ben Wallace (flu); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (ankle). Bulls: Michael Ruffin, Cedric Simmons.
Officials:  Joe DeRosa, James Capers, Leroy Richardson
Streaking:  Cavs have won three in a row. The Bulls have won their last game.
So far this year:  The Cavs have won all three games.  LeBron James has averaged 32.7 points in those contests
Three things to watch:
  • Mo Williams-Derrick Rose - Rose is coming off a double-double (25 points, 10 assists) against the Toronto Raptors Wednesday while Williams and his backups gave up 25 to the Memphis Grizzlies Kevin Lowry.  To be fair 15 of those points came on free throws, but displays how Lowry was able to penetrate the Cavs defense and get to the hoop and get a shot off.  Williams will have to watch Rose's perimeter game and ability to go inside.
  • Bulls as a team - They're playing their fifth game in less than a week.  Reading that is enough to make me tired.  They're 2-2 in that stretch and played well enough to beat Toronto in their building Wednesday, but fatigue could be a factor.
  • Drew Gooden - Gooden is averaging more than 19 points a game and more than 10 rebounds in the four games since his return from an injury. It must be the beard.
From the coach's office:
Mike Brown on the return of Kirk Hinrich and Drew Gooden:
You’re talking about an All-Star and Olympian in Hinrich and somebody close to being an All-Star in Drew.  It’s two very talented guys who are veterans, who are experienced and who know how to score baskets.  That’s going to make it a lot tougher on us because of the experience and scoring capabalities they bring to the table.
From the locker room:
Lorenzen Wright on starting his second game:
You just have to get back into the swing of things,'' he said. It's not about the start.  It's about starting with the players that you've never played with, so you really don't know where you fit in, so you have to figure out everything on the fly
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