Memphis -- I would like to do something besides praise the Cavs, because that is all I have been doing in print for the past two weeks. But I cannot after watching them totally bury the Grizzlies 118-96 here tonight after smashing the Kings last night.
Here are some thoughts, per usual:
--While my instincts tell me Larry Hughes' play at point guard is just a stop gap, I can't deny the difference in his game. He's got 39 assists in the last seven games and the Cavs have stopped standing around as much. They will not continue to shoot at such crazy percentage, but if they continue to attack and work for high-percentage shots, they will continue to win. I believe at least.
--The Cavs first eight baskets were scored in the paint tonight and they had 58 points in the paint for the game. Part of this is because the Grizzlies' idea of playing help defense is getting out to the wing to wait for the inbounds pass, but part of it is a continued effort to get the ball to Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the post and LeBron James and Larry Hughes' willingness to drive and kick.
--Right now, all five Cavs starters are on hot streaks. Nobody is noticing Drew Gooden, who is averaging 15 and 10 over the last six games. Z is 16-of-20 shooting over the last two games. Sasha Pavlovic is out of his shooting slump, he's made 19 of his last 31. This, too, will not last, but just shows when the offense is working, everybody can get involved.
--In the third quarter when LeBron was knocking down all those shots -- he made five jumpers, three 3s, in 2:11 -- the whole building was rooting for him. Even the Dunking Elvises or whatever they're called. One of those surreal moments when you know that you're watching a true superstar, you get caught up in the moment.
--Before the game, all the media is waiting by LeBron's locker to hear whether he's going to play or not. By the way, these back spasms have been bothering him for awhile and could pop up again. Anyway, so he walks by after getting his 30-minute long massage and just nods to Cavs PR chief Amanda Mercado, who says: "Hold on, everyone, he's got to go to the bathroom." This is weird for two reasons: 1. That LeBron has non-verbal communication about his bathroom plans down with Amanda and; 2. It feels weird to be waiting for a guy outside a john. Damon Jones, amused by the whole scene, demands we report on James' visit to the can. "C'mon, ya'll, you better get in there and find out if it is No. 1 or No. 2. Wait, hold on...." Then Damon gets up and follows LeBron in, emerges a few seconds later and reports: "Oh, No. 1." I can't be sure, but I thought I saw a guy jot something down on his notepad. Then again, I am the one blogging about this, ahem, crap.