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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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