Heat: Jason Williams, Dwyane Wade, Dorel Wright, Udonis Haslem, Shaq Cavs: Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Bob Delaney, Luis Grillo, Sean Wright
--Yes, Larry Hughes is in the starting lineup. Mike Brown said it was because this is the lineup that worked last year in the playoffs and at the end of the season. Then again, this requires Hughes to play point guard, which he said he was done with. Or not, maybe LeBron will play it. We'll see. Either way, my read on this is that this is a last ditch effort to get something out of Hughes before they remove him from the lineup altogether. Larry, Brown and Danny Ferry had a long meeting after practice yesterday, in which I'll bet he was told to stop complaining in the media among other things. --Daniel Gibson hasn't done anything to go to the bench, but Brown needs someone who can hit a shot coming off the bench so that may have contributed to this move. --Shaq is not having a great season, but he's still a load and will be hard for the Cavs to handle if he's getting free on the backside. How does he get free on the backside? When they can't stop dribble penetration. --The Cavs have been unable to handle the Dwyane Wade high pick-and-roll in the past, we'll see if LeBron gets the assignment if there is a crunch time. --Cavs next two games are at Dallas and at New Orleans. Which makes this a rather important game to win, as if that matters these days.
Halftime -- Heat 47, Cavs 43 --Yawn. Boy is this a bad game. No, neither one of these team is playing very well but part of this can be blamed on the officials. They are blowing their whistles to stupid touch fouls. We're on pace for an 80-foul, 80-free throw game. Enough already. They can't even stop from tooting when there's free throws going on, there's been three lane violations called. --The Cavs are not playing with a lot of energy. They have 10 turnovers and most of them are on mindless plays. They are dribbling like it's going out of style, there's almost no passing on offense. They had just two assists in the second quarter and they scored just 18 points. After starting the game 6-of-7 from the floor, the Cavs are 8-of-26. Gibson doesn't usually dribble this much in a week. --Sasha Pavlovic and Larry Hughes, the Banger Brothers, are a combined 1-of-8 in the first half. Jeez, doesn't Damon Jones deserve a try by default? --This is a warning for the Cavs, this is turning into a junk game and Wade thrives in junk games. Of course, he and LeBron are a combined 7-of-16 at the line in the half. That's what ABC wanted, right, the stars missing free throws?
Postgame -- Cavs 96, Heat 82
Stars LeBron James, 25 points, 12 assists Anderson Varejao, 15 points, seven rebounds Daniel Gibson, 16 points Dwyane Wade, 22 points, eight assists
--I know this sounds like a broken record, but the defense decided this one again. The Cavs started playing it in the third quarter and the game turned around. Part of it was the Heat getting stagnant with the ball and, no, they are not the most talented team right now. But the Cavs played decent one-on-one defense and the rotations and help were active. There weren't guys going to the basket with three Cavs standing on the floor watching. --The Cavs gave up 20 points below their defensive average tonight, which says a whole lot when you think about it. Yes, the Heat are bad, but so are the Knicks if you get my drift. --It is hard to tell whether or not this is a real stepping stone game, considering this was generally the way the cavs played against the Lakers. As one Cavs official pointed out to me, the team has won three of five. We'll see. --Spoke with Larry Hughes after the game. Seems like after a long meeting with Mike Brown and Danny Ferry, he's going to go back to playing point guard and try to keep himself focused on team goals. He said "There are individual goals that you'd like to accomplish and have that coincide with the team winning. But if that can't happen you have to put the team goals first and you have to respect that." Still, he's not thrilled playing PG but he's got his starting spot and his minutes back, so I guess it is an uneasy truce. He did play better today than he has, but was still 2-of-7. --Sasha Palvovic was 1-of-8 and the one was a dunk in transition. He's now gotten to the point where he is sling-shooting his jumpers, cocking the ball behind his head. He did an OK job on Dwyane Wade, which means he's not going anywhere in the lineup. Still, he's 13-of-45 over the last six games. --Anderson Varejao has played three quality games in a row. He's finishing well in traffic around the basket and shooting free throws well. He didn't do either well last year. I still don't think he's jumping well, I suspect his legs are totally back or totally there. But he's come around well over the last week. --Zydrunas Ilgauskas moved into second place in team history in rebounds during the game. He'll be the all-time leader soon enough. I hear a lot of complaining about Z in my e-mail inbox, on radio shows and tv shows and on message boards. Lots of people complain about his contract. Often people focus on his shortcomings and what he can't do. Let me tell you this, someday No. 11 will hang in the rafters because he's been one of the best players in the history of the franchise. He's a great rebounder, he has one of the best shooting touches for a big men in this era and he'll be remembered as one of the best offensive rebounders of this era. Yes, he's got slow feet. Yes, he's not physical. Yes, he's lumbering. But he's been a great player. And here's something else nobody ever seems to remember. When he signed his current contract, he took a $6 million pay cut in his prime. Give me another example of someone who has done that. Considering his output and what others at his position are making across the league, he's fairly compensated. That's all I wanted to say about that.