Hawks 90, Cavs 81 --A few times every season teams on back-to-backs are going to play flat and going to get beat. A classic case happened to the Cavs in Denver earlier this season. And while it would be tempting to chalk tonight up to that, I simply cannot. This game was a reminder of the deep flaws the Cavs have. In general, they are a one-man team (obvious, I know, but this put it in bold letters). Second, they are so fragile mentally. --LeBron James went 13-of-22, the rest of the Cavs went 19-of-66. Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic and Daniel Gibson combined to go 4-of-24. But in Sasha's defense, he missed just two shots. Of course, he didn't make any shots, either. Every town the Cavs go into, all I hear is people just mock their guard play. How can they not? --After the game, I asked LeBron two questions. 1. Why does the small unit move the ball so much better than the big unit on offense? 2. What is wrong in the third quarter? He started both answers with what he could do about it. That's the thing, what more can the man do? The fixes don't start with him, in general, I don't think. --Anderson Varejao looked like he got messed up bad in the fourth quarter when he jammed his left leg. After the game in the locker room he had an ugly red welt developing on top of the knee and his foot was in ice but he was happy. He said he thought he messed up his knee and his Achilles in the same play. The doctor took him back and looked at his knee and declared it fine, just a bruise. He's a little more concerned about the Achilles, but Andy said it is not torn and he just was so relieved. He was actually happy. Which goes to just how fragile the Cavs are. Had he stayed in the game, the Cavs may have won, but that isn't the point. --Zydrunas Ilgauskas' shot is totally flat right now. I went to talk to him in the locker room about it and Sasha, who was sitting next to him, said: "He has been spending too much time around me. It is getting in his head, too." I said: "Sasha, just don't think then." I'm sorta serious there. Anyway, if Z can't shoot then the Cavs are in more trouble than I thought. Z shrugged his shoulders and said he'd be working on it. --Ignoring all the stuff that came before it, Drew Gooden's travel with 1:30 left and the Cavs down by five really decided the game. If the Cavs score there, everything is different in the last minute. Which is why Drew often isn't in the game in those circumstances.
Tonight's recap: Pregame Starting lineups
Cavs: Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Hawks: Anthony Johnson, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Officials Scott Foster, Rodney Mott, Tommy Nunez
--The Cavs were extremely loose in the locker room before the game, joking around and having fun. It's a team on a winning streak for sure. Do they lack focus? We'll see, but they are surely enjoying being around each other at the moment --Joe Johnson struggled against Sasha Pavlovic last week, he made a bunch of shots at the end of the game to pad his stats, but the Cavs held him in check for the bulk of the game, we'll see if that changes. --Look for Mike Brown to use his small lineup a lot tonight with Damon Jones, Devin Brown and Gibson out there with LeBron and Andy Varejao. It's a good matchup against the Hawks, who like to play small at times. --This is a good litmus test for the Cavs. They took care of business last night, let's see if they can again tonight. This game will decide just how long this winning streak will last.
Stars LeBron, 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists Joe Johnson, 29 points, seven rebounds Al Horford, 10 points, 15 rebounds
Quotes Mike Brown: "Tonight was one of the worst nights we've had in moving the ball. We had a lack of execution." LeBron: "Hey, don't wait until the fourth quarter, we have start the third quarter like we start the first quarter. I don't know how we can do that, I don't know if it is our effort level or our mindset but we have to do a better job because that is where were are losing ball games." Andy: "I thought something very bad happened because my knee and my Achilles both hurt bad. I was scared."
Halftime -- Hawks 36, Cavs 32 --Ick, that's some nasty basketball out there. It's not just sloppy, it's careless. At times. Both teams are showing effort, but it's like an executionless effort. --Cavs may have had their worst offense half of the year with all their players. 28 percent, 32 points and they are only down four on the road in the second night of a back-to-back. So they are either in great shape or about ready to get blown out. They have been saved by 11 second-chance points but still missed a lot of close layups. --Both teams have been playing decent defense and contesting shots, but also both are making a lot of unforced errors. LeBron is waiting for double teams tonight, which is a bad sign. He'll need to be more aggressive but he's going to need some help. --Cavs are reaching a lot of defense, which also can be a downfall of theirs because they let teams get free points. Overall, they've done OK with rotations and given up just 40 percent shooting. --Let's all hope this first half gets forgotten.
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