There was no sign of LeBron James anywhere in Rhodes Arena Friday night -- on the floor or in the stands. A surprise crowd of more than 4,000 came out to watch the Cavaliers scrimmage and those who didn't burn their James jerseys left them at home.
Antawn Jamison was a late scratch with tendinitis in his left knee. He joined Mo Williams (groin strain) on the bench and even got to coach the Wine team in the fourth quarter (Anthony Parker coached Gold in the fourth).
With so many key faces missing, it left plenty of time for guys like Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson to look good. And they did. The Cavs are expecting big things out of Gibson, who had a great summer of workouts. Gibson looked good running the offense, as did Sessions, who is thrilled to be out of Minnesota's triangle and into a system where he can push, run and be effective.
Sessions had 13 points, Gibson had seven and Hickson had eight. If there was a flaw with JJ, it's that he missed all four of his free throws. Byron Scott is playing him on the wing in hopes of getting him in space and allowing him to create and show off that jumper. It's an interesting idea and proof that Scott is taking the leash off that Mike Brown had him on last year.
But Scott still believes the team as a whole should be further along in grasping the Princeton offense. As a result, they have yet to have a day off. Despite working every day Tuesday through Friday (twice on Friday: morning practice and evening scrimmage), he is bringing them back in on Saturday and Sunday, too. The first preseason game is Tuesday against Charlotte at the Q.
"Our biggest problem right now on the offensive end is we're still thinking too much," Scott said. "We're not just playing and reacting. But I really expected that. When you're putting in a whole new system, you've got a lot of guys right now trying to think about doing the right thing. It'll just take us some time before we're just playing and reacting to the defense. Right now you can see guys are a little hesitant."