Rockets 93, Cavs 85
--Houston is playing very well. They've won 17 of 20 and nine straight. They have also held eight straight opponents to less than 90 points. They imposed their will on the Cavs tonight, from LeBron on down. He had a triple-double but in some ways it was the worst offensive game he's played in weeks. --Not sure some of the lineups Mike Brown played. As usual, he was focused on defensive matchups and therefore didn't use Damon Jones much at all. But Damon is the kind of player you need against the Rockets because he can get free on the backside of their rotations. Instead it was Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall and Devin Brown getting free. Also, I guess Mike has just forgotten about that small fourth-quarter lineup without Andy Varejao. Seems like spreading the floor against a team like Houston that shrinks the floor would be a good idea. Didn't happen. --The Cavs have been spinning their wheels a bit. The schedule has been hard and the injuries have hurt, but they are playing a lot at the other team's tempo. Like scoring 118 points in Orlando and then 85 tonight. When they were playing well they were dictating the tempo and winning lots of games the same way. When you play different every night you are scrambling. --Overall, it was a blah game and all of you are more concerned about the trade rumors anyway. I spent a lot of time Sunday and Monday talking to general managers, agents, etc. and I wrote this story in today's paper. Things have not changed to my knowledge. Again, as you will read below, in bidding wars the Cavs are probably going to lose. It sounds like Memphis has decided to make another salary-dumping trade with Mike Miller as the centerpiece, but I don't know if the Cavs can offer the best deal. Same goes for Andre Miller, although the 76ers folks sound like they don't want to trade him right now. --If you are the Cavs, I think you may have to attempt to take a big swing when you assets are more valuable, which is next summer and next season. They have enough expirings to make big-time deals at that time. Just making a move to add a piece that doesn't exactly put you over the top but harms your long-term flexibility is a tough call. I know most fans want something and they'll rip Danny Ferry if he doesn't get it. I know LeBron says he wants help now. But these are tough calls, nothing is a slam dunk.
Rockets: Rafer Alston, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Yao Ming Cavs: Larry Hughes, Ira Newble, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials Ron Garrettson, Violet Palmer, Mark Lindsay
--Rockets are hot, they have won eight straight games and eight straight on the road. They are a team that relies on slowing the game down. The Cavs must do two things, they must rebound well and they must push it in transition. --The trade stuff is flying everywhere. I just spoke with a couple Cavs officials. They have some offers out there but they are not sure what, in anything, will come through. Their problem is that they cannot win too many bidding wars. Which means they may have to wait until the end to see if it anything is accepted.
Halftime -- Rockets 42, Cavs 36
--Wow, what a terrible half of basketball. Neither team shot better then 32 percent. Lots of bricks and fumbles and the like. Two teams out of rhythm to be sure. --LeBron is 0-of-7 from the the field and he's mostly attempted jumpers. He's having trouble getting space inside because the Rockets are packing the paint. The Cavs really need to start moving the ball a lot better and make Houston cover more ground. They have just six assists and LeBron has five of them. --The Cavs had 10 fastbreak points in the first quarter and none in the second, which is why there is a difference in this game. --The guys who took part in All-Star Weekend are struggling. LeBron hasn't made a basket yet, Daniel Gibson is 0-of-3, McGrady is 2-of-11 and Yao is just 2-of-9. When Yao and McGrady are a combined 4-of-20, the opposing team really should be winning. --As for the Grizzlies trade rumors, yes they are true. I've reported numerous times, including in today's paper, that the Cavs have put in bids for Mike Miller. Again, it will all come down to what they are competing against. Taking on a guy like Brian Cardinal is a heavy price to pay. One of the reasons the Cavs didn't get Mike Bibby was because they weren't crazy about taking on a massive salary like Kenny Thomas that stretches to 2010.
Stars LeBron, 26 points, 11 assists, 13 rebounds Rafer Alston, 22 points, six assists Luis Scola, 15 points, eight rebounds Yao, 16 points, 14 rebounds
Nothing really worth repeating.
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