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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Atlanta Hawks - the Rematch and Abridged Version

By George Thomas Published: December 30, 2009

Neither of these two wins against the Hawks were particularly pretty, but they go down as Ws, so the Cavs aren't about to complain.
You could tell the minute that LeBron James stepped on the floor that he wasn't about to settle in the offensive department.  Unfortunately, his teammates didn't follow the lead until late.
James scored a season-high 48 points on his birthday nonetheless to lead the Cavs to a 106-101 win.  Overall the Hawks outplayed the Cavs offensively outshooting them from the three-point arc and overall 48 percent to 47 percent. 
The key difference: free throws.  The Hawks got to the line just 15 times overall in the game, while the Cavs had 38 trips.  James had 16 free throw attempts by himself.
Another key:  The Cavs' defense showed up again when it mattered most - the second half.  They erased a one-time 17-point lead to eventually win the game.
Sometimes sports just ain't pretty.

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Gameblog: Cavs at the Atlanta Hawks

By George Thomas Published: December 29, 2009

Post mortem:  Cavs 95, Hawks 84
If you want to talk about winning ugly, you have but to look at this particular game.  LeBron James had one of his worst nights of the season, but his teammates (Mo Wiliams with 20 points and Delonte West with 17) picked up the slack. 
If you were looking for offensive ecstasy?  Wrong game.  Wrong night.  Although the Cavs shot close to 50 percent on the night, 20 turnovers that led to 17 Hawks points kept Atlanta in the game. 
Defensively?  They were typically brilliant, especially for an 8:31 stretch where they held the Hawks without a bucket.  They weren't beacons of offensive brilliance themselves, however. They hit just 32 percent in the fourth quarter.
The one thing that struck me watching this game was that it felt like a playoff atmosphere to at least one team.  The Hawks, who the Cavs swept out of the Eastern Conference semis last spring, were definitely up for the game, but the Cavs maintained the calm, cool demeanor of who they are - a veteran ballclub with young talent.  With James struggling, his teammates didn't panic.  What they all did was ratchet up the defense.
After allowing Jamal Crawford to light them up for 24 points in the first three quarters, they held him pt just two in the final one.
First half:  No defense from either team as the Hawks shoot 51 percent to the Cavs' 64 percent.  Thus far the Cavs are killing the Hawks on the boards 19-12, including winning the offensive rebound battle. Mo Williams continues to shoot at a torrid pace for the Cavaliers hitting 5-of-6 shots for 15 points.  But the Hawks are in this game because of a familiar Cavs problem:  turnovers.  They have 11 of them thus far, leading to 13 Hawks points.
Game:   Cavs (24-8) vs. Atlanta Hawks (21-8)
 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).  Hawks:  Marvin Williams (F); Josh Smith (F); Al Horford (C); Joe Johnson (G); Mike Bibby (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - OUT.  Hawks:  Joe Smith (dislocated thumb) - PROBABLE.
Officials:  Bob Delaney, Rodney Mott, Leroy Richardson.

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Christmas Greetings Go Out to - Technology

By George Thomas Published: December 25, 2009

I will be completely honest:  Working on Christmas close to 2,500 miles from home stinks worse than a festering corpse. 
It' s what I signed up for, however, and I love my job.  Therefore you take the good with the bad.  However, in this day and age it is very much possible to celebrate Christmas without being home.  Witness just two of my greatests  joys - Cameron and Matthew - in life opening gifts this morning back home in suburban Cleveland and  a Merry Christmas to all:

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Kings Meet the King: Cavs Beat Sacramento in Overtime

By George Thomas Published: December 24, 2009

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – No one could have asked for a better game than the one the Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings played Wednesday night at Arco Arena.
It contained enough drama, enough tension and plenty of highlight moments.  It registered as one of those games fun to watch no matter who the victor.
Of course that’s of little consolation to the loser and in this case the Kings, the team that came back from a 35-point deficit against the Chicago Bulls earlier this week,  lost an overtime game to  the Cavs 117-104 with the help of LeBron James’ second triple-double (34 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists) on the season and the 26th of his career and defense that held the Kings scoreless in the final period.
James had  plenty of help from point guard Mo Williams who tossed in 27 and points and dished out three assists.  But backup center Zydrunas Ilgauskas contributed a season-high 25 points and added eight rebounds. 
 It’s not the fact that Ilgauskas scored that many points, it’s when he did it - hitting three consecutive three-pointers in overtime to put the game away.
‘’It was great for not only our team, but for Z himself to be able to come out and hit back-to-back-to-back threes like that in a close game at the time,’’ LeBron James said. ‘’It’s definitely a coming out party for Z this year.’’
Indeed, Ilgauskas displayed a shot reminiscent of his prime years, hitting on 10-of-14 of the night and those three big shots in the overtime period.
‘’I’ve been shooting the ball well lately, I started real slow,’’ he said. ‘’I got an opportunity and I was able to step in and knock the shots down.’’
The Kings’ Tyreke Evans showed that the hype surrounding his NBA wasn’t unwarranted.  The Memphis University product dropped 28 points on the Cavs, adding three rebounds and five assists.  He and the Kings hung around for through the second half and cruised for the first three, hitting on 51 percent of their shots in that span.
‘’Neither team was defending and tonight, the first team that stepped up and defended had the best opportunity to win the game and it was us,’’ coach Mike Brown said.
Indeed, Evans coasted along through the game’s first three quarters with the rest of his team, the Cavs’ strategy in the later stages of the game proved the deciding factor in the game as James guarded the heralded, disrupting his shot and generally frustrating him.
‘’It was just me taking the challenge,’’ James said.
Evans couldn’t get a good look from the minute James assumed those duties.  Evans connected on 1-of-8 shots combined in the fourth quarter and overtime period.
It’s a tactic that the Cavs could have used to start the game, but Brown decided against it.
‘’We knew we could go there if we wanted to, but we felt that come fourth we put ‘Bron on him to see if he could score on someone with some size,’’ he said.
As a team the Cavs deserve credit as a team for getting stops when they mattered the most.  Despite giving up 52 points in the paint and 21 second chance points, when it counted, they delivered a stellar defensive effort as the Kings went a combined 8-of-27 in the fourth quarter and overtime period. James, however, wasn’t satisfied completely with the way they played.
‘’We hate to continue letting teams get comfortable in the first three quarters,’’ he said.  ‘’It’s a great thing to be able to turn it on defensively like that, but we need to be able to figure out how to do it as close to 48 minutes as possible.’’
Buzzer beater:  LeBron James' totals against Sacramento of 34 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists was James' second career game of at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.  Since 1986-87, only Charles Barkley and Larry Bird have two games with at least those totals.
 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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Gameblog: Cavs at Sacramento Kings

By George Thomas Published: December 23, 2009

First half  Cavs 57, Kings 53
Two things are keeping the Cavs from dominating the game.  The Kings have hit the free throw line 14 times to just five for the Cavs and the Cavs left their interior defense back in Phoenix because the Kings are getting into the paint relatively easy with, scoring 10 points.  The Kings are making the best of second chance opportunities scoring 10 points in that area.
LeBron leads the Cavs with 26 points; Omri Casspi has 16 for the Kings.
Game: Cavs (21-8) at Sacramento Kings (13-14)
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).
Kings: Andres Nocioni (F); Jason Thompson (F); Spencer Hawes (F); Omri Casspi (F); Tyreke Evans (G).
Injured:
Cavs: Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - OUT.
Kings:  Sean May (strained left hamstring) - QUESTIONABLE.  Kevin Martin (surgery- left wrist), Francisco Garcia (surgery, right forearm, wrist) - OUT.
Officials:
The Kings return home with a boatload of confidence after overcoming a 35-point deficit against the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night in the Windy City.  It was the second-best comeback in the league in more than a decade. 
It's a team that many saw sitting in the cellar of the Western Conference's Pacific Division, that spot is currently occupied by the Golden State Warriors.  But they've played will above that level, thanks in part to Tyreke Evans, the Memphis product billed as the Baby LeBron.  He's in line the be one of few rookies to average 20 or more points, five rebounds and five assists per game.  Impressive indeed.
Pay attention to Delonte West once again.  He's been on a roll offensively and is playing with more confidence

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Cavs at Phoenix Suns - Abridged Version

By George Thomas Published: December 22, 2009

The Cavs became the only team in the NBA since March to beat the Phoenix Suns twice on their homecourt.  The Suns are 19-0 against the rest of the league.
The team that beat the Suns 109 to 91 hardly resembled the one that folded against the Dallas Mavericks the night before.  Outstanding games from LeBron James (29 points) and Mo Williams (24 points) and decent bench play (36 points) helped the Cavs pull this one out.
For most of the game the Suns remained close, but the Cavs broke things open in the fourth quarter, outscoring 27-16.  The reason why?  In the quarter that the Cavs needed to put Phoenix in lockdown, they did, holding them to just 36 percent shooting and forced six turnovers for 10 points.  Add these ingredients and you get the Cavs going on a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter and holding the Suns scoreless for 5:22 of the fourth quarter.

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Cavs at Dallas Mavericks

By George Thomas Published: December 20, 2009

Post-mortem:  Mavs 102, Cavs 95
The bad: No Nowitzki?  No problem.  The Cavs couldn't take advantage of a Dallas team without its leading scorer and opens its four-game Western swing with a loss.  While Nowitzki sat in street clothes on the bench with an elbow laceration, Tim Thomas filled in for him and tried his best to match the German's almost-27 point scoring average.  Thomas poured in 22 and grabbed seven rebounds in relief.  Had they been able to put any kind of clamps on him, the Cavs had a chance to win this one.
The ugly: The lack of defense in the second half.  Dallas shot a mere 40 percent in the first half, but over 55 percent in the second, outscoring the Cavs 50-45 in the final two quarters. The allowed the Mavericks to bury them with timely shooting in the fourth quarter, especially from the three-point line as Jason Kidd stole back some momentum with a trey at 4:31 in the fourth quarter. 
Game:  Cavs at Mavericks 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). Mavericks: Shawn Marion (F); Tim Thomas (F); Erick Dampier (C); Jose Juan Barea (G); Jason Kidd (G).
Injured: 
 Cavs: Leon Powe (knee surgery) - OUT, Jamario Moon (undetermined) - OUT;  Dallas: Dirk Nowitzki (elbow laceration) - OUT.
Officials:  Eddie Rush, Pat Fraher and Haywoode Workman.
The Cavs will not have to face the Mavericks' uber forward Dirk Nowitzki tonight.  The team' s leading scorer suffered an elbow laceration after elbowing the Houston Rockets' Carl Landry the other night, getting some of Landry's teeth embedded there.  The Mavs will have to rely on Tim Thomas to come off the bench and replace some of those 27 points.
The Cavs, thus far this season, are 7-2 against Western Conference teams, including a win versus the Mavericks at Quicken Loans Arena back on November 28. They jumped on the Mavs early taking a 68-55.  halftime lead before eventually going on to win 111-95.  LeBron James had 25 points and 12 assists in that game.  Delonte West added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Misc.:  Tonight is LeBron James 500th game as a Cavalier...The Cavs are 7-2 versus the Western Conference.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

By George Thomas Published: December 18, 2009

Game: Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks 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).  Bucks:  Luc Mbah a Moute (F); Ersan Ilyasova (F); Andrew Bogut (C); Carlos Delfino (G); Brandon Jennings (G).
Injured: 
Cavs:  Leon Powe (knee surgery) - OUT.
Bucks:  Joe Alexander (hamstring) - OUT. Officials: Mark Wunderlich, Tony Brothers and Curtis Blair.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. New Jersey Nets

By George Thomas Published: December 15, 2009

Post-mortem:  Cavs 99, Nets 89
The good:  There ain't a whole lot of good to take from this one, but let's go with the combined play of centers Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.   It probably worked just the way coach Mike Brown drew it up (facetiousness) - Shaq inside and Z from the outside. 
LeBron James took over the game in the third quarter at one point scoring seven consecutive points to give the Cavs a healthy cushion.  Statistically they dominated the game shooting 58 percent, grabbing 41 rebounds to the Nets 36 and putting up 58 of their points in the paint.  But they lacked focus and energy.  Once again: they play to the level of their competition.
The bad:  Delonte West went back to the inactive list after looking as if he were back in the flow with respect to his teammates.   At times it's easy to wish the team would cut times to him, but anyone who's been paying attention knows what he is capable of when he's right.
The ugly:  It was unintentional, with LeBron James even offering him support, but Devin Harris' foul on Jamario Moon looked beyond ugly.  Thankfully Moon wasn't hurt in the process.  Harris received an ejection from the game.
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: Josh Hassell (F); Josh Boone (F); Brooke Lopez (C); Courtney Lee (G); Devin Harris (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Daniel Gibson (right pinky sprain) - GAME TIME DECISION; Leon Powe (knee surgery) - OUT
Nets:  Tony Battie (sore right hip flexor) - QUESTIONABLE;  Chris Douglas-Roberts (left knee sprain); Kenyon Dooling (sore hip flexors); Jarvis Hayes (strained left hamstring), Yi Jianlian (upper lip laceration) are all OUT.
Officials:  Bennett Salvatore, TBD

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The Traveling Music Post: The Show Tunes Version

By George Thomas Published: December 14, 2009

Once again folks, I'm off into the great blue yonder.  Traveling to Houston then home this time, but here are some of my favorite show tunes for your pleasure:
A recent discovery after seeing Wicked at Playhouse Square:
 
Idina Menzel sang the Wicked Witch of the West's part of the duet Defying Gravity from Wicked, here she's part of the ensemble cast from RENT:

Something old school from West Side Story. You can never forget the classics. And yes, I know Natalie Wood didn't do her singing in the film. Doesn't change the fact that she could act and that she was gorgeous (completely sexist remark, I know):

Phantom of the Opera has been on Broadway for more than two decades. Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford are still difficult to match:

In closing, a little symmetry. From The Wiz based on the Broadway play (therefore it qualifies) and starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor:

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Pre-game Notes: Cavs at Oklahoma City Thunder

By George Thomas Published: December 13, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – J.J. Hickson found himself in a position Friday night that hadn’t been too familiar since late November – riding the bench. The second-year forward found himself there after just 30 seconds had passed in the third quarter as the Cavaliers struggled against the Portland Trail Blazers. The problem:  an inability to keep up with the Blazers’ dominating forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who seemed to score at will and from any place on the court. ‘’I pulled him out with 11:30 left in the third, I won’t hesitate to do it again,’’ Brown said. ‘’If he’s making a mistake but he’s playing hard, you have to live with the mistakes as long as they’re aggressive mistakes.’’ But Brown didn’t see anything aggressive in the way Hickson played against Portland. ‘’He didn’t make any physical adjustments on (Aldridge); he just continued to let him go where he wanted to.  He’s got to understand that can’t happen,’’ he said. And if he doesn’t?  Brown has little problem turning to Anderson Varejao, as he did Friday.  And although he doesn’t expect the 6-foot-10 Brazilian to breakout each time for 22 points and 10 rebounds, he knows that defensively he can rely on him to do what needs to be done.  At one point in Friday’s game, Varejao played for 23 consecutive minutes. ‘’Twenty three minutes straight is a long time, but not really for a guy like Andy,’’ he said.   ‘’His endurance is unique for his size.  His (footwork) is unique for his size. He’s capable of doing long spurts at a time.’’ Brown has no plans to remove Hickson from the starting lineup any time soon, primarily because he doesn’t want to fall into a trap; instead he’s looking to maintain some consistency.  He’s also willing to chalk Hickson’s problems up to growing pains, saying that the North Carolina State University product played off of adrenaline when he enjoyed his initial success. ‘’He’s been a young guy that’s all it is,’’ Brown said. Shaq in; Gibson out Shaquille O’Neal decided to play tonight despite suffering a left eye contusion in Friday night’s game. The 7-foot-3 center was examined at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. ‘’Obviously the concern is if you get scratched there again, you can make it worse,’’ Brown said. ‘’It’s early in the season, if you do err, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of being precautious.’’ O’Neal said the injury did affect his vision, but he started against the Thunder. Historic trio Only three players in league history have averaged 28 points or more through the first 21 games of a season at age 21 or younger. All – LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Durant – played in Sunday’s game. *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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Gameblog: Cavaliers at Oklahoma City Thunder

By George Thomas Published: December 13, 2009

Post-mortem:  Cavs 102, Thunder 89
The good:  Mo Williams' borderline miraculous three-point shot from 48 minutes with five seconds left on the 24 second clock.  It wasn't the shot itself - as good as it was - but its effect on the game that makes the big difference.  After Williams connected on it, the Thunder played like someone had busted their ball.  They missed the next seven shots after that as it helped the Cavaliers continue a 17-3 run that eventually put the game out of reach.
The better:  LeBron James' 44 points, six rebounds and seven assists.  Even as I write about it, it's almost an afterthought because he does stuff like this so often.  It was a dominating performance adn he single handedly kept the Cavaliers in the game until Mo Williams showed up to give him a hand in the second half.  In a one-minute stretch toward the end of the third quarter, James hit three consecutive three-point shots to help give the Cavs the lead at 78-76, but some momentum that Williams' shot only added to. 
The best:  The Cavs continue to play clamp down defense at the most important time of the game.  Williams' shot not only gave them a boost offensively, but it spurred them on defensively. The Thunder shot just 30 percent in the fourth quarter.
Game: Cavs (16-7) at Oklahoma City Thunder (12-9)
 
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). 
Thunder:  Jeff Green (F); Kevin Durant (F); Nenad Krstic (C); Thabo Sefolosha (G); Russell Westbrook )G):
Injured:
Cavs:  Daniel Gibson (strained pinky); Shaquille O'Neal (left eye contusion) - QUESTIONABLE.  Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - OUT.
Thunder:  Kyle Weaver (shoulder surgery); Kevin Ollie (right knee surgery) - OUT.
Officials:  Derrick Stafford, Leon Wood and Haywoode Workman.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Portland Trail Blazers

By George Thomas Published: December 11, 2009

Post-mortem: Cavs 101, Portland 99
The Good: Mike Brown called it willing a win in the second half.  Given the way the Cavs played in the first, they needed something.  Mo Williams said that Brown let them have it at halftime because, to be generous, they looked lazy out on the court.  In the second half, different story as the Cavs flipped a nine-point lead and outscored the Trail Blazers 59-45 in the second half and held them to 39 percent shooting.
The Better: But they won because of the play of two players - LeBron James (who else) and Anderson Varejao.  James came out in the third quarter and scored his team's first nine points and scored 19 points in the half and Varejao nearly matched him with 18 points.  But it was Varejao's unexpected burst that did the most damage.  He was key in a 10-0 run in the third quarter that tied the game at 64.  Varejao scored six of those 10 points.  Additionally, he was a monster on the boards with five (three offensive) of his 10 overall in the half.
The Ugly:  There's got to be some ugly as the Cavs continued their propensity to turn the ball over, giving up 16 of them tonight.  The Blazers scored 19 points off of them and a fair share of them were unforced.
Misc. notes:  The Cavs had three players with double-doubles (LeBron James, Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao) for the first time since Feb. 24, 2008 when Zydrunas Ilgauskas, LeBron James and Ben Wallace did it against the Memphis Grizzlies...The Cavs outscored the Trail Blazers 52-28 in the paint, beat them on fastbreak points 18-7 and outrebounded Portland 40-30.
Game: Cavs vs. Portland Trail Blazers
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).  Trail Blazers:   Martell Webster (F); LaMarcus Aldridge (F); Joel Pryzbilla; Brandon Roy (G); Steve Blake (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Daniel Gibson (hand); Leon Powe (knee surgery)
Trail Blazers:  Rudy Fernandez (sciatic pain), Greg Oden (knee surgery); Travis Outlaw (left foot surgery).
Officials:  Dan Crawford, Tony Brown, John Goble.

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Updated All-Start Balloting Results

By George Thomas Published: December 11, 2009

2010 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING                             EASTERN CONFERENCE
Forwards:  LeBron  James (Clev) 649,327; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 533,187; Chris Bosh  (Tor)  303,550;  Paul Pierce (Bos) 131,379; Josh Smith (Atl) 109,404; Danny  Granger  (Ind) 100,122; Andre Iguodala (Phi) 75,146; Michael Beasley (Mia) 58,461; Hedo Turkoglu (Tor) 55,416); Rashard Lewis (Orl) 46,073; Luol Deng (Chi) 37,428.
Guards:  Dwyane  Wade  (Mia)  672,227;  Vince Carter (Orl) 292,002; Gilbert Arenas  (Was)  212,526; Ray Allen (Bos) 208,276 Derrick Rose (Chi) 196,059; Allen  Iverson (Phi) 136,976*; Joe Johnson (Atl) 118,964; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 113,371; Jose Calderon (Tor) 68,084; Mike Bibby (Atl) 48,935. . Centers:  Dwight  Howard  (Orl)  625,279;  Shaquille  O'Neal (Cle) 206,657; Andrea  Bargnani  (Tor) 67,310; Al Horford (Atl) 52,747; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 45,920;  Brook  Lopez  (NJ)  39,420;  Jermaine O'Neal (Mia) 38,956; Rasheed Wallace  (Bos)  36,855;  Kendrick  Perkins  (Bos) 19,408; Brad Miller (Chi) 17,188; Tyson Chandler (Cha) 14,062; Samuel Dalembert, S. (Phi) 13,969.
                            WESTERN CONFERENCE
Forwards:  Carmelo  Anthony (Den) 588,958; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 366,300; Pau Gasol  (LAL)  280,758; Tim Duncan (SA) 271,321; Kevin Durant (OKC) 177,205; Trevor Ariza (Hou) 168,167; Shawn  Marion  (Dal)  161,653;  Luis  Scola (Hou) 134,321; Ron Artest (LAL) 99,209; Lamar Odom (LAL) 85,817; LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 70,588.
Guards:  Kobe Bryant (LAL) 692,518; Tracy McGrady (Hou) 281,545; Steve Nash (Pho)  272,135;  Chris  Paul  (NO) 248,049; Jason Kidd (Dal) 207,247; Jason Terry  (Dal)  131,422;  Aaron  Brooks (Hou) 131,167; Chauncey Billups (Den) 112,509;  Brandon  Roy  (Por)  106,416;  Deron Williams (Utah) 94,715; Manu Ginobili (SA) 75,392.
Centers: Amar’e  Stoudemire (Pho) 447,776; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 299,484; Nene (Den) 90,439; Marc Gasol (Mem) 75,765; Greg Oden (Por) 73,874; Al Jefferson (Min) 48,676; Antonio McDyess  (SA) 46,323; Mehmet Okur (Utah) 35,606; Marcus Camby (LAC) 35,471; Andris  Biedrins (GS) 28,287; Emeka Okafor (NO) 19,827; Spencer Hawes (Sac) 10,733.
*While Allen Iverson appears among Western Conference guards on the paper ballot because he began the season with Memphis, his votes will count towards the Eastern Conference guards due to his signing with Philadelphia Dec. 3.

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The Traveling Music Post: Christmas Edition

By George Thomas Published: December 10, 2009

Many of you will no doubt get to spend Christmas at home with your loved ones. Me? I'll be watching the Cavs go at the Lakers in person. However, I always find that my heart grows a little bigger and my patience increases this time of year. I'll miss my family, but some of these songs will be blasting in my car stereo and iPod over the course of the next several weeks:
David and Bing, my all-time favorite Christmas tune EVER:
 
The SECOND all-time favorite EVER. Quick: name the only American act to appear in this video and on the record (yes, record kids; it was on vinyl):

Yeah, Nat King Cole was smooth, very smooth:

A Charlie Brown Christmas - truly classic.

From A Year Without a Santa Claus - mediocre TV special, great tune:

Schlocky movie This Christmas was, but Chris Brown's rendition of the Donnie Hathaway classic hooked me:

Remember when MTV was fun?:

Your faves? There are billyuns and billyuns from which to choose.

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Gameblog: Cavs at Memphis Grizzlies - Abbreviated Version

By George Thomas Published: December 9, 2009

A little wi-fi problem is never really a good thing.  It was almost as horrible as this game.  Apologies for the abbreviated blog, but after tonight's game what's left to say?  This one wasn't pretty.
Post-mortem:  Grizzlies 111, Cavs 109
The good:  Yes, actually, there was some good to come of this - LeBron James' performance proved masterful. Scoring 43 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out six assists isn't a bad night of work.  to the bad. 
The bad:  Only two others in the starting lineup showed up in the game - Shaquille O'Neal (16 points)  and Mo Williams - they got nothing out of the shooting guard with Anthony Parker and J.J. Hickson didn't offer much in the way of offense either, each scoring two points in the game.   Daniel Gibson's 13 off the bench helped to allay some of that and LeBron's performance certainly help, but that offensive output is needed.
The ugly: They committed 21 turnovers that led to 20 of the Grizzlies 111 points.  That pretty much sums up the ugliness.
Misc. notes:  The Grizzlies snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Cavaliers...they also broke the Cavs' eight-game string of holding opponents to fewer than 100 points.
Game: Cavs at Memphis Grizzlies
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). 
Grizzlies:  Rudy Gay (F); Zach Randolph (F); Marc Gasol (C); O.J. Mayo (G); Mike Conley (G).
Injured:
Cavs:  Jamario Moon (left groin strain); Jawad Williams (food poisoning) - DAY-to-DAY; Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - OUT.
Grizzlies:  Darrell Arthur (right pectoralis surgery) - OUT; Jamaal Tinsley (lower back contusion) - DAY-to-DAY.
Officials:

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The Traveling Music Post: Yes, It's the Glamorous Life

By George Thomas Published: December 8, 2009

Music to regale one and all from my misspent youth to make up for not posting today because I was traveling.  If that's what you call one flight being late enough to cause me to miss a connecting flight:
Sheila E - The Glamorous Life The Dawn Experience | MySpace Video
The diversity in music tends to freak some people out. This from one of my favorite bands:

You can NEVER have too much of this guy:

As long as we're in Motown:

And we had his bandmates before. Enjoy this guy:

I resume blogging tomorrow.

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Cavs vs. Bulls: And then LeBron said to Joakim

By George Thomas Published: December 5, 2009

A testy exchange between LeBron James and the Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah added some spice to what had been a lackluster affair Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Noah apparently had an issue with James busting a couple of moves out on the court with six minutes left in the game.  Noah said something about it to James who then walked over to the Bulls bench, drawing a technical from the officials.  James was asked if the dancing upset Noah.
‘’I don't know. It's not my worry at all. We got a good win,’’ he said. ‘’ That's what we do, we have fun when we play basketball. If there's a problem we handle it on the court.’’
When asked what happend, Noah said ‘’nothing’’ and denied that any conversation took place. When pressed he added:  ‘’It’s just frustrating to lose, you know? It’s just frustrating to lose the way we have been losing lately.’’ James said that he didn’t mean any disrespect toward Noah or the Bulls.
"This is not something that is new. We have fun. We love to play the game of bball. It's nothing aboout showboating on a team. I've seen it happen all last year. I think he was more frustrated about the way he played as an individual.’’ Noah scored just seven points and had 10 rebounds on the night.
Buzzer beaters:  The Cavaliers extended their winning streak at Quicken Loans Arena to six games…LeBron James scored his third consecutive double-double, scoring 23 points and dishing out 11 assists….The team had 11 turnovers in the first half and none in the second.

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Chicago Bulls

By George Thomas Published: December 4, 2009

Post-mortem:  Cavs 101, Bulls 87
The good:  The Cavs bench players delivered significant points once again as they put up 40 against the Bulls.  Daniel ''Boobie'' Gibson led the way for the reserves with 15 points.  Considering how woeful bench play was a couple of weeks ago, this can only be viewed as a welcome development by Mike Brown and his staff.  An educated guess says this is what they had in mind when they went out and made their offseason moves. It's the third consecutive game the bench has produced 40 points or more.  In those three games, they are averaging 43 points per game.
The better:  A rarity for Mike Brown - he offered effusive praise for second-year player J.J. Hickson and it was difficult not to and that's not based on his nine points on the night.  It was based on the way that he played defense in the third quarter - diving for balls and contesting shots.  In that period, he was dynamite.
The best:  They played a flawless third quarter as they began to take over the game.  The Cavs went into the locker room with 11 turnovers and didn't turn the ball over once in the second half.  In the third quarter, they held the Bulls to just 25 percent shooting while shooting 54 percent themselves and building a 19-point lead and putting the game out of reach.
Game:  Cavs (13-5) vs.  Chicago Bulls (7-9)
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).  Luol Deng (F); Taj Gibson (F); Joakim Noah (C); John Salmons (G); Derrick Rose (G)
Injured:
Cavs: Leon Powe (knee) - OUT
Bulls:  Kirk Hinrich (left thumb sprain);  Jerome James (right Achilles); Tyrus Thomas (left radius fracture) - OUT.  Aaron Gray (left fibula stress fracture) - PROBABLE.
Officials:  Mauer, Wright, Zielinski

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NBA Break: Something 'Glee'-fully Different

By George Thomas Published: December 3, 2009

The only down side to have a job as sweet as the one I do?  Missing my favorite television shows.  These days the show at the top of that list - Glee.  Just watched Wednesday's episode, and per usual, it was phenomenal.  The show has rarely hit a sour note.  For the uninitiated a few clips follow.  Yes, I know.  My man card may get revoked for loving this show.  But given my self-professed love of movie and Broadway musicals and showtunes, so be it.
From Glee:
The video and remake of a Journey classic that hooked me:
 
A cover of a Queen classic:

 
A favorite tune by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown

Lastly, combining two things I love, good television and Broadway. The best song from the musical Wicked:

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LeBron is No. 2! LeBron is No. 2! Whatever

By George Thomas Published: December 3, 2009

An esteemed panel of Hall of Famers, major award winners, current players, executives coaches, other basketball players and the Seven Dwarfs have deemed Kobe Bryant the greatest player in the history of known man - today - in Sporting News.
The revered panel can be found by subscribing to SN Today and I'll take them at their word.  In short, LeBron James came in at No. 2 behind Kobe Bryant.  Before Cavaliers Nation freaks out and screams:  "He wuz robbed," I have to say that is about right.
Why?  Think about what Kobe Bryant has accomplished in his career - four championships including the elusive one without Shaquille O'Neal last year - a Finals MVP, a league MVP, 11 years an All-Star.  Add to the mix that he's still playing at the peak of his powers and it makes sense.
LeBron, no matter how he is perceived as a player, will not supplant Bryant on any similar list until he wins multiple championships.  Think that's going to happen in New York City anytime soon?  The New York areas are a combined 4-33.
The only other Cavs player to make the list:  Shaquille O'Neal at No. 16.  Yeah, that's a head-scratcher.  I like Shaq.  The jury is still out on what he brings to the Cavs on a consistent basis, but No. 16?  Really?  Really?

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Record in Hand, Ilgauskas Wants to Put Incident Behind Him (with audio)

By George Thomas Published: December 2, 2009

In the end, Zydrunas Ilgauskas didn’t want the pomp and circumstance of an in-game ceremony to mark the fact that he broke the Cavs’ record for playing in the most games.  He just wanted to celebrate with the fans who’d been there for his 11 NBA seasons.
‘’That was one of the coolest things I experienced in my life and also the closest I’ve come to tears on the basketball floor,’’ he said.
But like any human being, he said that not playing in Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, which would have represented the record-breaking moment, disappointed him.  Considering the fact that he lost his starting job and graciously moved to the bench without any qualms, it’s easy to see his point.
Ilgauskasdidn’t take questions from the media Wednesday, which leads one to believe that there’s a lot more to what happened in this situation.
‘’What made me more disappointed and upset were the acts that followed and this whole mess has been created.  I’m not going to go into any details,’’ he said. ‘’Once again, I’m going to be a bigger man and walk away from this. I know that when I go to at night, my conscience is clear.’’
Ilgauskas said that life will go on for him: ‘’What I am going to continue to do is I am going to continue to do my job. I love this team; I love my teammates.  They are like family to me. I am going to come every day to work and try my hardest, win some games and hopefully win a championship for this city because they deserve it.’’
Z audio

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Pre-game notes: LeBron 50-50 on Slam Dunk Contest

By George Thomas Published: December 2, 2009

CLEVELAND - Memo: superstars have the prerogative to change their minds and rightly so. After saying last season that he would likely participate in this year’s slam-dunk contest All-Star Weekend in Dallas, LeBron James said that there was a 50-50 chance he would participate.
‘’It’s a little bit watered down,’’ he said of the annual event. ‘’I don’t know if you can get it back to the ‘80s and ’98 when Vince (Carter) was in it, but it was more about the dunks than what was going on around the dunks.’’
The Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony suggested that it was time for James to get back in the event.  ‘’I hope so.  He mentioned before that he might. I want to see that,’’ he told AOL’s Fanhouse. James, who has been invited to participate on numerous occasions, said that he hadn’t given a lot of thought to participating this season.
‘’I’ve been too focused on us playing basketball and us getting back to the form we (had) last year,’’ he said.
Keeping it in house Zydrunas Ilgauskas got the chance to claim the Cavs’ team record for games played with 724 at 3:50 of the third quarter, receiving a rousing ovation and that is probably where the controversy related to the record will end.
Tensions rose when Ilgauskas didn’t get into Saturday’s game against Dallas Mavericks this past Saturday and, according to reports, declined the opportunity to go in during the second half. As of Tuesday afternoon Brown said that he still hadn’t discussed things with his reserve center. Before Wednesday’s game, he said that he no longer wanted to discuss the situation in the media. Let’s do time warp
About the only thing missing was Doc Brown’s flying Delorean from the 1985 movie Back to the Future.  For the evening, Quicken Loans Arena looked more like the Richfield Coliseum than the Cavs’ new digs. Players were given ‘80s-era hairdos and clothing on Q-Vision and more than a few tunes from then all in honor of throwback night when the Cavs donned the jerseys that the likes of Brad Daugherty, Mark Price and Larry Nance wore.
‘’When you think of the guys who wore those jerseys – Mark (Price), Brad (Daugherty), Larry (Nance) and Craig (Ehlo) – they did an unbelievable job setting these uniforms up to be throwbacks,’’ James said, ‘’and they did a wonderful job of playing the game the right way and giving the fans something to cheer about.’’

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Gameblog: Cavs vs. Phoenix Suns

By George Thomas Published: December 2, 2009

Post-mortem:  Cavs 107, Phoenix 90
The good:  The Cavaliers showed some offensive balance as seven players scored in double figures with no one (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) scoring more than 14 points in the game.  The Cavs shot a white-hot 54 percent in the first half and had 16 assists in that time span.  Conversely, they held the Suns to 29 percent shooting in the half.
The better:  Zydrunas Ilgauskas finally got that team record for games played.
The bad:  As good as they were in the first half offensively and defensively, they dropped off considerably in the second half, shooting just 43 percent and being out-scored 61-50.
Game:  Cavs vs. Phoenix Suns
Broadcast: 
TV: FSOhio Radio:  WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters:  Cavs:  LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G). 
Suns:  Grant Hill (F); Amare Stoudemire (F);  Channing Frye (C): Jason Richardson (G); Grant Hill (G).
Injured: 
Cavs: Leon Powe (knee surgery) - OUT
Suns:   Leandro Barbosa (left ankle sprain) - OUT
Officials: Bob Delaney, Derrick Collins and Olandis Poole.
Pre-game observations: 

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Z Update and More Minutes for Delonte?

By George Thomas Published: December 1, 2009

The Zydrunas Ilgauskas incident appears to be dying down, although no one would have known that from the number of media members out in Independence today.
Even after the maelstrom that kicked up, coach Mike Brown said  that he hadn't talked to Ilgauskas just yet over his not playing in Saturday's game versus the Dallas Mavericks, an appearance that would have broken a team record for most appearances by a player.  Ilgauskas tied G.M. Danny Ferry's record of 723 against the Charlotte Bobcats.
''I have not talked to him.  I intend to talk to him,'' Brown said.  Although, at this point he has little idea what he will say.  '' I didn’t write anything out or anything like that, so I don’t know yet and when I do I’m not going to tell everybody.''
The incident received a lot of publicity because of comments LeBron James made during after practice interviews.   Brown said that he understood what James was doing.
''LeBron is a loyal person, a loyal individual and that’s big on his agenda.  That’s what’s made him the type of person he is today and you respect and you understand that he was trying to be loyal to Z.  I have no problem with that at all.''
Look West, fans
Expect to see more of Delonte West tomorrow night against the Phoenix Suns.  The reason is simple: with the Suns up tempo brand of basketball, they play a lot of small lineups.   West's stature and overall skills are built to keep pace with the likes of guards Steve Nash and Jason Richardson.
West had arguably his best game of the season against the Mavericks because of they play a similar style of ball. He racked up 10 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes, reminding everyone what he can do on the court.
''To be able to play him the minutes that I did was a key to our team and us getting a win.  Offensively he was great…then defensively I thought he did a great job chasing Jason Terry,'' Brown said of West's play.

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The Brown Backlash Begins Over Z

By George Thomas Published: December 1, 2009

Hey, everyone needs something to write about on a slow day when there's nothing really happening except Tiger Woods trying to protect his personal life and the Saints utter dismantling of defensive genius Bill Belichik's New England Patriots. So it was inevitable when LeBron James spoke regarding center Zydrunas Ilgauskas not getting into last Saturday's game against the Dallas Mavericks that there would be plenty of opinion out there. Take a peek:
From Tom Ziller at AOL Fanhouse:

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