The Cavaliers showed they are a second-half team. In fact, it was almost as if two teams were playing Tuesday night against the Nets – the one that would turn the ball over 10 times in the half and the other that would only turn it over once in the second. Also, they kicked up the defensive intensity in the second half, beating the Nets on the boards 28-16 and forcing 6 turnovers. The key in the game: a 12-0 run to start the third quarter, powered by the 3-point shots of Delonte West and Mo Williams. West hit 4-of-4 in that quarter to help the Cavs get some separation.
Coach Mike Brown on Delonte West’s defense of Vince Carter:
Vince obviously has him by a few inches, but Delonte has long arms, he’s tough and it’s not going to be Delonte guarding Vince by himself, he’s going to have help. This is a good test for us and we’re going to have other tests to see how Delonte handles bigger guards.
At the half:
Sorry for the late update, but there are technical difficulties here at the Izod Center. Yes, I said Izod. Can you get anymore peppy. The Cavs slogged their way through another first half where the numbers, especially in the second quarter when they shot a meager 33 percent, told the story of how mediocre they looked. Ten turnovers in the half and 44 percent shooting. Devin Harris ate them up in the half, scoring 15. LeBron James went him six better. What is surreal bout being here is that Nets fans are treating him like the Barack Obama of hoops. They have hope that he’s going to come here, so they are cheering his every success on the court and he received almost as loud a reception as any Nets player during pre-game introductions. This will ultimately have to be a game the Cavs scrap out. They’re getting the looks, but the shots are rattling in and out more than anything.
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G), Mo Williams (G). Nets: Bobby Simmons (F); Yi Jianlian (F); Brook Lopez (C); Vince Carter (G); Devin Harris (G)
Injuries: Cavs: Darnell Jackson (left wrist fracture); Nets: Jarvis Hayes (back spasms) is questionable; Josh Boone (left ankle contusion); Chris Douglas-Roberts (sprained MCL, right knee); Eduardo Najera (strained neck, sore lower back) and Stromile Swift (sore back) are out.
Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Violet Palmer, Pat Fraher
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won seven games in a row; the Nets two.
What to watch:
1) Devin Harris who had a monster stretch of games during his past three. In those he’s hit 30 or more points, the longest run for a Nets player since Vince Carter pulled off the feat in 2006. The Cavs’ Mo Williams bought into Mike Brown’s mantra of defense first, let’s see if he, with some help, can tamp Harris down a bit.
2)The Cavs overall defense ranks 10th in field goal percentage and 8th in points surrendered overall. Watch if they can put together four complete quarters, something they’ve not done all season.
3) Free throws. Free throws. Free throws. It’s no surprise the Cavs are winning when they have shot 80 percent or better from the charity stripe in the past six games. It’s a trend that has to continue.
From the coach’s office:
Mike Brown on the Nets:
They’re doing a terrific job of using the talent that they have. What I mean by that is they have guys who are quick with the basketball, so they are trying to get out and run. They have guys who are very good penetrators, so they’re attacking the basket.
Brown, who watched Greg Popovich handle the media with respect to rumors of Tim Duncan leaving:
I stepped back and observed (Greg Popovich) and Pop said it like it was: ‘We’re getting ready for today’s game. And after today’s game, we’re getting ready for tomorrow. We can’t control that... Let’s just control what we can try to control and that’s what’s in front of us right now.
From the locker room:
LeBron James on the Nets:
They’re a very decent team. The best part is they always have a chance. I think Devin Harris is one of the fastest, quickest guards in this league and his ability to get into the cracks of our defense, or any defense, can really cause trouble at times, so we have to be in tune.
On leaving the prospect of leaving Cleveland:
We’ve made strides every year since I’ve been here. We’ve gotten better every year. I think this year is probably the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here. You have to see how a season plays out. Just because you go to different team with different players doesn’t automatically guarantee you a championship, so I have to be smart about things and be patient. I’m here. I’ve been here since I got drafted and I’m used to being in this uniform.