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McDonald's Signs LeBron James to Partnership Deal

By George Thomas Published: January 28, 2010

McDonald's scored a slam dunk of its own Thursday.
The nation's top fast food chain signed LeBron James to a multiyear partnership that will put James in the chain's promotions and he will provide support for Ronald McDonald House, the company's private charity that aids ill children and their families.
James has already filmed one commercial for the chain - a remake of the 1993 commercial "The Showdown," which will feature him and the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard.  In the original Larry Bird and Michael Jordan faced off in a game of H-O-R-S-E.  The remake is scheduled to air during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Financial terms for the deal were not disclosed, but will include advertising for commercials, online and print ads.
The deal came together after years of flirting by Steve Stoute, founder of Translation Advertising, a New York advertising firm, James and Maverick Carter,  president of LRMR Sports Marketing.
For the two parties, it represents a win-win scenario as both can be viewed as being the best at what they do.
James is currently ranked second on Bloomberg BusinessWeek's list of most powerful athletes, topped only by golfer Tiger Woods.
However, it goes beyond that.  Both parties are extremely image conscious and protect those images.
“McDonald’s and I make a great team,” said James.  “We share many of the same core values, including a commitment to excellence and giving back to the community.  I am also excited about the opportunity to work with Ronald McDonald House Charities."
Beyond the commercial, James will lend a hand to the 2010 McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Games in Columbus.  Proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.  James was the MVP of that very game in 2003.
McDonald's now joins a notable list of James corporate sponsors that also includes Coca-Cola, State Farm Insurance and Nike.
“LeBron is an All-Star, both on the court and in the community,” said Neil Golden, McDonald’s USA chief marketing officer. “We’re looking forward to working with LeBron to showcase our brand in surprising ways while also raising awareness of and support for Ronald McDonald House Charities.”

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

By George Thomas Published: January 27, 2010

Post-mortem: Cavs 109, Minnesota 94
It was nothing fancy and offered little in the way of excitement.  Given recent Cavs games, that may not have been a bad thing.
The Cavs were almost surgical and their dismantling of the Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night.  The game was interesting for about a quarter.  After that, the Cavs clamped down, holding the T-wolves to 39 percent shooting on the night.  They outrebounded Minnesota 42-35 and scorched them offensively, shooting 55 percent to their 40 percent.
What those who attended the game and watched on TV did see was the potential of J.J. Hickson who has a nice night with 23 points and eight rebounds.  Hickson led all scorers and was a dominant presence through the three quarters he played.   You get that out of him on a semi-consistent basis heading into the playoff run and the Cavs will be an extremely dangerous team.
For a change, the team didn't have to overly rely LeBron James who only scored 12 points but dished 11 assists. Don't think James and some of the other starters didn't appreciate it.  He, O'Neal and Hickson all got the fourth quarter off.
Game: Cavs (36-11) vs.  Minnesota Timberwolves (9-38)
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Minnesota Timberwolves:  Ryan Gomes (F); Damien Wilkins (F); Al Jefferson (C); Corey Brewer (G); Johnny Flynn (G).
Injured: 
Cavs:  Delonte West (finger), Mo Williams (left shoulder strain) and Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - OUT
Timberwolves:  None.
Officials: Derrick Stafford, Tony Brown, Sean Corbin.
The outlook:
By all accounts this is a game that should be easy pickin' for the Cavaliers;  then you remember that some of their losses have come against sub-.500 teams.   But these are the Timberwolves, a team that hasn't won on the road since Dec. 23 and were blown out by the New York Knicks in their most recent outing.
The Cavs have won eight consecutive against the Timberwolves and despite the fact that they are playing without Mo Williams and Delonte West, they're playing solid hoops.  LeBron James has elevated his game (as if that were possible) and is averaging a freakish 35 points per game in the month of January.
With the second half of the season here and those two injuries, Shaquille O'Neal is taking a more active role in the offense, averaging 17.5 points over the last four games.

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Around the League with a Cavs' Kind of Flavor

By George Thomas Published: January 26, 2010

Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times might have hit on something with this article:
In it he offers simple explanation for why the Cavaliers currently own the best record in the NBA.

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NBA Power Rankings from Around the Internet

By George Thomas Published: January 26, 2010

First up from ESPN's Marc Stein, who continues to rank the Cavs at the No. 1 for five weeks running:

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Cavs expected to sign Cleveland State University product

By George Thomas Published: January 22, 2010

Look for the Cavaliers to sign Cedric Jackson of the Erie Bayhawks:

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Gameblog: Mo-less Cavs Face Los Angeles Lakers

By George Thomas Published: January 21, 2010

Game: Cavs vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Broadcast: TV: TNT Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Delonte West (G). Lakers: Ron Artest (F), Pau Gasol (F/C); Andrew Bynum (C); Kobe Bryant (G); Derek Fisher (G).
Injured: Cavs: Mo Williams (sprained left shoulder); Leon Powe (left knee surgery); Jamario Moon (abdominal strain) - OUT. Lakers: Kobe Bryant (back spasms, avulsion fracture, right index finger); Sasha Vujacic (strained right hamstring); Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) - PROBABLE.
Officials: Joe DeRosa, Sean Wright, Gary Zielinski.
In a nutshell:
Mo Williams' injury makes this game a horse of a different color.   Out with a shoulder sprain, Delonte West will start.   The Cavs will miss Williams' ability to hit that outside shot and playoff of LeBron James. He was well on his way to having one of the best seasons of his career.   He gets the Cavs in their offense, can drive and kick when needed to and his defense is adequate.  He scored 28 against L.A. in the first game.
The Cavs will have to rely on Delonte West.  Last year that may not have been a problem.  This season?  Tonight will tell the tale.  There have been encouraging signs - things that people outside of the locker room, shootaround and the halls of Quicken Loans Arena can't see - that West is moving toward the center with respect to his issues. That's a good thing.  There's little doubt he posseses the tools to excel in Williams absence.  He can drive, shoot, hit the three, but he is a tenacious defender.  Look for Daniel Gibson to back West up and get significant playing time.
Look for the Lakers to play a more physical brand of hoops tonight.  Kobe Bryant said after shootaround today that the Lakers were basically pushed around by the Cavs during their Christmas Day game.   Indeed, the Cavs got Andrew Bynum into early foul trouble and roughed up Pau Gasol well.  Look for more of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal on the floor together tonight to tryduplicate that.  How the Lakers respond will dictate how this game goes.

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Mo out against Lakers

By George Thomas Published: January 21, 2010

Cavaliers point guard Mo Williams will sit out the game tonight with the Los Angeles Lakers with a shoulder sprain.
Its potentially a huge loss for the Cavs because Williams is the second leading scorer on the team. He also scored 28 points against the Lakers in the most recent meeting between the teams on Christmas Day.
Delonte West will start at point guard, and Daniel Gibson will be the backup.

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Shaq Featured on 'Millionaire' Thursday

By Dan Published: January 20, 2010

Sometimes you forget just how well-known Shaq is. The Big Fella - as coach Mike Brown calls him - was the subject of his own celebrity question on Who Wants to be A Millionaire in an episode that airs tomorrow morning at 9:30 on WOIO (Channel 19).
Thanks to the folks of Disney-ABC Domestic Television for the video.

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It's Good to Be King

By George Thomas Published: January 20, 2010

He's popular with the young set and, apparently, with the stylish  (meaning $$$).
LeBron James ranks No. 2 in jersey sales in the NBA based on sales at New York City's (of course, the world revolves around the Big Apple) NBA Store and NBAStore.com.  He comes in behind the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant.  The complete Top 10:
1. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers   2. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers  3. Dwight Howard- Orlando Magic  4. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls  5. Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat  6. Kevin Garnett – Boston Celtics      7. Chris Paul – New Orleans Hornets  8. Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics  9. Shaquille O’Neal – Cleveland Cavaliers  10. Pau Gasol – Los Angeles Lakers 
For the record, the Cavs ranked No. 3 in team jersey sales.
And what about style? 
GQ readers have selected James one of the 25 Most Stylish Men in the World.
Apparently James merited a mention, but has a long way to go to catch the poll's leaders:
Actors Robert Pattison of Twilight fame and Johnny Depp (if you don't recognize that name, you've been under a rock for about 10 years).

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Toronto Raptors

By George Thomas Published: January 19, 2010

Game:  Cavs vs. Toronto Raptors
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Raptors:  Chris Bosh (F); Hedo Turkoglu (F); Andrea Bargnani (C); DeMar DeRozan (G); Jarrett Jack (G). Injured: 
Cavs: Jamario Moon (abdominal strain); Leon Powe (knee).
Raptors:  Reggie Evans (midfoot sprain) - OUT.  Marco Belinelli (flu-like symptoms) - day-to-day. Officials: Mark Wunderlich, Brent Barnaky, Tony Brothers
In a nutshell:
The Raptors have won their last two game and begin a two-game road trip here in Cleveland.  The last time the two teams met, the Raptors came out clawing and embarrassed the Cavs in the Air Canada Centre.  That was back in the days of ''What's wrong with the Cavs?''  As the rest of the NBA has come to learn, there isn't a lot wrong with the Cavs right now.  They had little identity and no idea how their new pieces parts were going to fit together. Most of that has taken care of itself as the team has proven to be solid and versatile for the most part.
But how will the Cavs do tonight?  Jet lag - or lack thereof - will tell.  After hopping all over the West in two time zones for 10 days, it would be surprising if the team came out looking a little ragged.  That was easy to see in their performance against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Raptors come into the game having scored 101 points in six consecutive games, while the Cavs have given up more than 100 in three of their last five.  That isn't a promising situation, but rarely do teams play better defense on the road than at home.
Chris Bosh has averaged 25.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game and his past five. Does anyone realistically believe that J.J. Hickson will be able to play with him?  Expect to see LeBron James on him some and expect Mike Brown to continue to give Jawad Williams more time.  Brown likes his defense and fearlessness.
The Cavs' centers - Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas -will have their hands full with Andrea Bargnani, who's averaged 20.8 points, 8.8 rebounds in the last five.  In the last meeting with the Cavs, he torched them for 28 points.

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NBA Power Rankings: Cream Staying at the Top?

By George Thomas Published: January 19, 2010

Yes, this is a day late.  Many apologies for that, but in some ways I'm still recovering from being out West for 10 days - in and out of two time zones. The Cavs went 3-2 on that trip. They should have gone 4-1, but opened up the trip by stinking it up against the Denver Nuggets.  First up ESPN's Marc Stein:

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Clippers Sink on Missed Buzzer Beater

By George Thomas Published: January 17, 2010

LOS ANGELES – No one could blame the Cavaliers for looking road weary in their game against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday night in the Staples Center.
Ten days.  Five games.  Back and forth in two time zones.  It’s enough to give sane people whiplash.  That doesn’t, however, excuse the sluggish play after the end of a long trip.
But give them credit for eking out a 102-101 win against the Clippers in front of a sell-out crowd. LeBron James led the Cavs with 32 points, four rebounds, and four assists.  Point guard Mo Williams followed with 18 points and six assists.
Rasual Butler paced the Clippers with 33 points, two rebounds and three assists, guard Eric Gordon tossed in 28 points, grabbed three rebounds and had four assists.
The Cavs died by the buzzer in Thursday night’s lost to the Utah Jazz; in this game, it proved to be a lifesaver, as a Baron Davis jump shot glanced off the rim into the hands of Delonte West to end the game.
It was the deciding play the best executed play, defensively, that the Cavs had all night. Davis got the ball off a pick-and-roll with 2.2 seconds left and looked to take the shot.
‘’We played it perfect,’’ James said.
Forward Anderson Varejao switched over to Davis and contested his 21-foot jump shot.
‘’Andy did a great job of staying in front of him, making him take a tough shot and got a good contest.  Just as good a contest as we had in Utah, but this one fell short,’’ James said.
After the loss against the Jazz at the buzzer, this one had to give the players some sense of relief.  But Saturday it was a case of the Clippers being able to choose their weapon.
‘’Yes if the ball hit Baron’s hands he was probably going to take the last shot,’’ coach Mike Brown said. ‘’That’s what great players do, but we also had to make sure we were respecting the other two guys.’’ The other two guys were Butler and Gordon, who singed the net for most of the night with their offensive play.  But the Cavs were also aware of Davis.
‘’When a good player like B.D. has the ball, you definitely fear it,’’ James said. ‘’And hopefully, we’d play it the right way, which we did.’’
The Cavs were fortunate to even be in the position to be in the game.  The Clippers led for most of the game opening up with a 10-0 run, that Cleveland battled back from.  Even deep into the third quarter when Los Angeles led by 13 points with 2:50 left on the clock, it looked as if the Cavs would succumb.  Not so.
Led by James, who had a scoring duel with the Clippers’ Butler, the Cavaliers came back.  James scored 13 points in the period.
‘’We just got in attack mode. I decided to be a little bit more aggressive on the offensive end either making a play for myself or making a play for my teammates,’’ James said. ‘’We had to also get stops on the defensive end which we were able to do.  We just turned it up a couple of notches.’’
He received timely help from his teammates, including seven points from point guard Mo Williams who had been struggling on the current road trip.  Delonte West and Jawad Williams added some scoring off the bench to aid the cause.
Was it pretty? No.  But the Cavs get to return home after their longest road trip of the season with a 3-2 record in five games and the best record in the Eastern Conference by mere percentage points. They return home to face the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Delonte’s shimmy Guard Delonte West caught some flak from an exuberant Clippers fan who led the fans in his section in the familiar high school cheer:  ‘’U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi.  You UGLY!’’ while West was at the free throw line in the second quarter. West just played along with the taunt shimmying before his second free throw.  The Cavs bench howled in laughter and James defended his teammates’ actions.
‘’Absolutely.  What’s wrong with it?  It’s part of the game,’’ he said when asked if West should have done it. ‘’The chemistry on the court, off the court is the reason we’re so successful, why we believe in each other and that’s why we do the things we do on the court because we’re like a brotherhood on this team.’’
Gag order continues
A national reporter asked LeBron James if he knew the words to I Love L.A, the Randy Newman classic and he replied: ‘’No, I know the words to I Love Akron and O-H- …’’
At least he's staying consistent by not talking about his free agency issues.
*tagline George M. Thomas can be reached at sportswriterabj@sbcglobal.net. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/thomas. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CavsABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CavsABJ

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Jazz beat Cavs at buzzer

By George Thomas Published: January 15, 2010

It was ugly, nasty and every other unflattering adjective you could use to describe a game Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
And the Cavaliers had no business winning it, and they didn’t.  Giving up 42 points in the fourth quarter on 70 percent shooting is not the way you want to try to finish a game, especially after coming all the way back from a 13-point deficit with just 4:50 left in the game.
The Cavs eventually fell to the Utah Jazz 97-96 after 10-day signee Sundiata Gaines hit a 3-point shot over Cavs guard Anthony Parker with time ticking away in regulation.
``To give up 42 points in the fourth quarter is not us,'' coach Mike Brown said. `` We cannot be that team. We cannot be that team and we did it tonight.’’
LeBron James led all scorers with 36 points and added nine rebounds and six assists.  The Cavs next highest scorer was Delonte West and Anthony Parker, both with 11.
Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 19 points and 13 rebounds, followed by 13 each from center Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Price.
But it didn’t have to end that way for the Cavs as again, they were their own worst enemies in a loss.  To call this game ugly represents a generous assessment of how they played.
The Jazz took advantage of offensive rebounds and turnovers to the tune of 45 points, more than half of those points coming on turnovers.
‘’A lot of the turnovers we had were unforced.  I can’t believe how many times we tried to get the ball into the post and it was tipped or stolen,’’Brown said. ‘’We were real lackadaisical trying to do that.’’
They still had a chance to win, however, as they came up with timely turnovers of their own and James willed them back into the game.
The Cavs had four steals in the fourth quarter, and James scored 20 points in the quarter, including back-to-back 3-point shots within seconds of one another with about a minute left in the game to put his team ahead by four points.  They eventually extended the lead to six points with 40.2 seconds left in the game.
But free throws down the stretch played a role in the loss, as the Jazz extended the game in its final minutes to give themselves a shot at the victory.
During that span, the Cavs looked as if they would be the first Eastern Conference team to march off Utah’s homecourt with a victory.
A 3-point shot by the Jazz’s Price cut the lead to three at 91-88 with 29 seconds left.  Then the intentional foul game began and the Cavs missed three free throws down the stretch.
James refused to put the blame on those shots, however,  pointing  to the team’s inability to play a complete game for the reason the team lost to the Jazz.
‘’We have to step up and make free throws, but at the same time, that’s not why we lost the game,’’ he said. ‘’That last shot isn’t why we lost the game. We have to play as close to 48 minutes as possible.’’
It was the fourth time James scored 35 or more points on this road trip.  He took little solace in that fact, however, as the team will prepare to face the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday night.
‘’Everything I did tonight as an individual goes out the window,’’ he said.
About that shot James offered praise for Gaines, a player that Jazz signed from the Idaho Stampede to a 10-day contract on Jan 15.
‘’You feel good for a guy like that (coming) from the D-League,’’ he said. ‘’We have a guy, Jawad Wiliams, that do the same thing for us.  We hated to have it happen against us, but you feel good for guys llike that.’’
Buzzer beaters:  James got poked in what looked to be his left eye and suffered what looked briefly to be a serious ankle injury in the fourth quarter.  He said that the eye wasn’t doing that well after the game.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Utah Jazz

By George Thomas Published: January 14, 2010

At the half: Cavs, 47, Jazz 40
The Cavs should be dominating this game, but they are making far too many mistakes.  They've committed nine turnovers and are on pace for 18 in the game.  The Jazz have only gotten eight points off of those turnovers.
Theycan't win the battle fo the offensive boards as the Jazz are killing them when it comes to second-chance points 12-2.  The good thing is that they are shoooting well at a 51 percent clip to the Jazz's 36 percent. 
Game: Cavs at Utah Jazz
Broadcast: 
TV: TNT, FSOhio Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Jazz:  Andrei Kirilenko (F); Carlos Boozer (F); Mehmet Okur (C); Ronnie Brewer (G); Deron Williams (G) Injured and inactive: 
Cavs: Jamario Moon (abdominal strain); Leon Powe (knee surgery) - OUT.
Jazz:  C.J. Miles is a game-time decision.
Officials:  Derrick Stafford, Leon Wood, Sean Wright.
In a nutshell:
You can sum this up as two great players who make their team go.  In the case of the Cavaliers, that's LeBron James.   The Cavaliers have a chance to beat the Jazz for the fifth consecutive time, but this cannot be a solo effort.  James will get his shots, but he will have to get his teammates involved. The Cavs are much more dangerous when they they share the ball.  The Cavs are 18-0 when they have 22 assists or more.  That is huge.
The Jazz didn't have Deron Williams in the earlier meeting between the two teams.  He could prove to be the difference in the game.  His ability to score and dish out the ball give the Jazz the opportunity to score easy hoops in the paint.  In short: he breaks defenses down.

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Scanning the League with the Cavs in Mind

By George Thomas Published: January 13, 2010

Well, just because he doesn't want to talk about it, doesn't mean no one else will.  The NBA is a rumor league.  It thrives on it because fans eat it up.  I consider myself a quick study.  Here's what I've learned about rumors in the NBA:  9-of-10 times they're just that.  With that in mind, here's the latest speculation regarding LeBron James' future from the Miami Herald:

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Cavs Beat Warriors; Notch 30th Win on the Season

By George Thomas Published: January 12, 2010

OAKLAND – The Cavaliers (30-10) used stifling defense and balanced offense to topple the Golden State Warriors (11-25)  117-114 at Oracle Arena Monday night, but they were still fortunate to escape with a victory.
LeBron James led the Cavs with 37 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, followed by four other Cavs players in double figures.
Corey Maggette led the Warriors with 32 points, seven rebounds.  Monta Ellis scored 30 points and dished out five assists.
Though there were more than a few highlight moments, the game proved to be a methodical dissection of the Warriors, a team known for up tempo offensive play.    That may indeed be the case, but on this night the Cavs’ defense ably played the Warriors for most of the game – even with the team’s unconventional play - on their way to the win.
But it would be their primary Achilles heel that made this game more interesting than it needed to be down the stretch. 
With 58.9 seconds left in the game and the Cavs leading 115-109 the Cavs turned the ball over.  Give credit where credit is due as Golden State’s Ellis stole the ball on the inbounds pass and pulled up for a three-point shot to make the game 115-112.
On the ensuing possession James drove to the hoop to give the Cavs a 117-112 lead and the Warriors Stephen Curry answered with a bucket, making the scored 117-114.
Still the game was far from over as with a little over five seconds, the Warriors got the rebound off a James miss and still had a chance to tie the game.  Curry’s 30-foot jump shot fell short giving the Cavs the win.  Overall the Cavs committed 22 turnovers that led to 26 Golden State points.
Coach Mike Brown just sounded relieved to get the victory.
‘’It was a tough game for the simple fact that they really junked the game up and they played five smalls and really ran around out there. We know that’s their style,’’ he said.
The way the Warriors play hoops generally leads to unusual player matchups, some that gave the Cavs problems occasionally.
‘’It’s very tough because you be in positions that you’re not used to,’’ James said.  ‘’At the same time you have to (communicate) as much as possible to get into some of the sets.’’
Overall, the Cavs held the Warriors to just 42 percent shooting on the night while shooting 53 percent themselves.
‘’We did some nice things defensively, but there are some things we need to work on. I thought our weak side awareness wasn’t good, especially down the stretch,’’ Brown said.
Without a dominant presence the Warriors scored just 28 points in the paint while Golden State had very few answers as to how to contain the Cavs efforts near the hoop be they from James or his teammates.
Center Shaquille O’Neal once again proved how effective he can be in the right situation as he scored 13 points and pulled down six rebounds.  The Warriors could not defend O’Neal or for that matter center Zydrunas Ilgauskas as they combined for 27 points and 15 rebounds.
Offensively, they received contributions from 10-of-12 active players and the bench played a huge role, led by Jawad Williams, Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao, who combined for 40 of the reserves 52 points.
Buzzer beaters:  Jawad Williams set a career high for the second consecutive game with 11 points…LeBron James matched a season high with four blocked shots…James currently leads the league in 30-point, 10-assist games with three…He is the first player since…LeBron James to score 37 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and four blocks since the Cavs played Boston Feb. 15, 2006…The Cavs had two players score 14 points and grab nine rebounds – Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas – for the first time since Tyrone Hill and Chris Mills did so on March 27, 1994.
*tagline George M. Thomas can be reached at sportswriterabj@sbcglobal.net. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/thomas. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CavsABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CavsABJ

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NBA Power Rankings from Around the 'Net

By George Thomas Published: January 11, 2010

The Cavs won 2-of-3 games in the past week.  That includes a bizarre loss to the Denver Nuggets who were playing without Carmelo Anthony.   What apparently saves them in assorted power rankings from noted sources was that they sucked a lot less than other teams around the league:
First up:  Marc Stein from ESPN.Com who keeps the Cavs at his top spot: 

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Gameblog: Cavs at Portland Trail Blazers

By George Thomas Published: January 10, 2010

Post-mortem:  Cavs 106, Trail Blazers 94
Second half:  Solid interior play from Shaquille O'Neal, timely play from Mo and Jawad Williams pulled this one out. 
LeBron ripped off 31 points in the first half, but only scored 10 in the second, primarily because the Trail Blazers started to double him up.  The strategy was successful for a while as the Blazers overcam a 17-point deficit to tie the game at 87 with 6:46 left in the game.  You can't say the Cavs were shocked by the turn of events, but they didn't respond until late.  Ultimately forward Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams and a couple of clutch three-pointers by Jawad Williams, who is seeing more playing time, proved to be enough to nudge them over the edge and help them to pull away.
First half:  Red hot shooting (65 percent from the floor) has the Cavs dominating this game.  Tbhey're leading in the paint and right now are killing the Trail Blazers on the boards 22-13.  LeBron is having a career game with 31 points in the first half.
Game: Cavs at Portland Trail Blazers Broadcast:  TV: ESPN and FSOhio Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM). Starters: Cavs:  LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G). 
Trail Blazers:  Martell Webster (F); LaMarcus Aldridge (F); Juwon Howard (C); Brandon Roy (G); Andre Miller (G). Injured: 
Cavs: Jamario Moon (abdominal strain), Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - are out.
Blazers:  Nicolas Batum (right shoulder), Rudy Fernandez (sciatic pain), Greg Oden (left knee), Travis Outlaw (left foot) and Joel Przybilla (right knee) are out ... LaMarcus Aldridge (left ankle), Steve Blake (pneumonia), Andre Miller (back) and Brandon Roy (right hamstring) are probable.
Officials: Joey Crawford, Tony Brothers and Phil Robinson.
The big question out of Portland had been how the Trail Blazers would react to a little verbal spat between point guard Andre Miller and coach Nate McMillan that lasted 30 minutes.  A victory against the Los Angeles Lakers the other night says: everything, for now, is cool. Let's see whether it was emotional residue or if it sticks.
Here's the Cavs' reality:  LeBron James is going to show up.  He always shows up.  Even when he's not shooting the best, he manages to dictate the tempo in other ways.  But the Cavs need Mo Williams.  That's their reality.  The Cavs are 12-3 when Mo scores 20 or more and they need him to show up almost every night to have a chance.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Denver Nuggets - Western Slog Begins

By George Thomas Published: January 8, 2010

Game: Cavs at Denver Nuggets
Broadcast: 
TV: ESPN Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Nuggets:  Joey Graham (F); Kenyon Martin (F); Nene (C); Arron Affalo (G); Chauncey Billups (G).
Injured: 
Cavs:  Jamario Moon (abdominal strain); Leon Powe (knee surgery) - OUT.
Nuggets:  Chris Anderson (left ankle sprain); Carmelo Anthony (right knee contusion); Nene (right ankle sprain); Ty Lawson (left ankle sprain) - all are game-time decisions.  Officials:   Mark Wunderlich, Bennie Adams, Michael Smith.
The outlook:
Cavs coming off virtual domination of the Washington Wizards Wednesday night (yes, I know they're not exactly the Celtics), but with the exception of turnovers, they looked clean and crisp.  The Nuggets are wounded and there's a real possibility that Carmelo Anthony, who is listed as a game-time decision, won't play.   Ditto for Chris "Birdman" Andersen and center Nene.
After a strong start to the season, the Nuggets are just 4-6 in their last 10 games.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Washington Wizards

By George Thomas Published: January 6, 2010

Post mortem:  Cavs 121, Wizards 98
Big difference in the Cavs team that played tonight and won and the team that lost to the Bobcats Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena:

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Cavs in Brief: LeBron James Selected Player of the Month

By George Thomas Published: January 6, 2010

LeBron James was named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Month for December, the second consecutive month he’s won the award.  James led the conference in scoring with 28.6 points per game and, in the process, dished out  7.6 assists per game (second in the conference for the month), grabbing 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals (good for fourth) for December. More importantly, he helped lead the Cavs to a 14-3 record in December, including their most road wins ever in a month – seven – as a franchise. The league selected Kobe Bryant Western Conference Player of the Month.
Cavs waive Karl The Cavs waived guard Coby Karl Wednesday.  Karl, the son of former Cavs coach George Karl, saw little time on the court. His departure leaves the Cavs with 14 on the active roster, giving them flexibility should they want to add a player or make a trade.

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Cavaliers: Delonte and Gilbert: Double Standard?

By George Thomas Published: January 6, 2010

Commissioner David Stern intended to wait to swing the hammer down on Gilbert Arenas for the episode involving him and teammate Javaris Crittenton Christmas Eve.
For those not into the guns-ablazin' tale:  Arenas allegedly pulled a gun on this courtmate during an argument over a gambling debt. No the irony doesn't escape me that millionaires are pulling a full-scale  John Woo (throwing down guns sideways), over thousands in gambling debt.
In a statement released today Stern apparently had a very quick change of heart (possibly caused by public perception?):

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NBA Power Rankings - A Summary from Around the 'Net - Jan. 4 Edition

By George Thomas Published: January 4, 2010

From NBA.com's John's Schuhmann who ranks the Cavs No. 2 in the league currently behind the Los Angeles Lakers:

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Gameblog: Cavs at New Jersey Nets

By George Thomas Published: January 2, 2010

Game:   Cavs vs.  New Jersey Nets
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:
Cavs:  LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Nets:  Chris Douglas-Roberts (F); Yi Jianlian (F); Brook Lopez (C); Courtney Lee (G); Devin Harris (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Leon Powe (left knee surgery)
Josh Boone (sore left knee); Jarvis Hayes (strained left hamstring); Eduardo Najera - OUT
Officials:  Scott Foster, Derrick Collins and Brian Forte.
Unlike the last game when the Cavs played down to an injury riddled New Jersey team, the Nets are relatively healthy for today's meeting at the Izod Center.  Yi Jianlian and Chris Douglas-Roberts are both back in the line up.  Yi is averaging 22.5 points per game and seven rebounds per game since his return.  Roberts put up 17 in his last game against the New York Knicks.
The Nets are coming off just their third win of the season over the New York Knicks.  You can call that momentum but it would probably be best to look back to their game against the Cavs when they played tough and made them work for every bucket and free throw.  They won't be pushovers.

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