Post mortem: Cavs 97, Spurs 86
Virtually everything that the Cavs did wrong against the Rockets, went the other way against the Spurs.
LeBron James scored virtually at will in the paint and from the outside. He racked up his 121st career double-double and his 16th of the season.
He received serious backup from teammates as Delonte West scored 17 and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas popped in 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
James led his team, but there's little doubt there would be no victory without them - especially in the case of West, who I think gets this team pumped up with his defensive play.
As a team they held the Spurs to under 42 percent shooting and they handcuffed Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who averaged 38 points in his last two game, holding him to 11 points. He tried, but couldn't get his team going.
An observation: if the Cavs are going to do what they are capable, they are going to need Anderson Varejao (five points, five rebounds) to be more aggressive offensively and they will need J.J. Hickson to keep his head in the game.
At one point, Hickson's lackluster play led Brown to call on fellow rookie Darnell Jackson, a not-too-subtle message for the rookie big man to wake up on the court.
Game: Cavs vs. San Antonio Spurs
Broadcast: TV: ESPN. Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Spurs: Michael Finley (F); Kurt Thomas (F); Matt Bonner (C); Roger Mason (G); Tony Parker (G).
Injured and inactive: Cavs: Ben Wallace, Eric Snow, Sasha Pavlovic. Spurs: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Ian Mahinmi.
Officials: Scott Foster, Kevin Fehr, Phil Robinson.
Streaking: The Cavaliers lost one in a row. The Spurs are winner of five consecutive.
This year: This is the first meeting between the two teams.
Three things to look for:
Post Mortem: Rockets 93, Cavs 74
Three glaring reasons exist as to why the Cavaliers got spanked in Houston tonight.
The first: the inability to do anything with Rockets center Yao Ming who scored 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Yao was able to have his way with whomever guarded him be it Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao or Ben Wallace. He hit from the outside and had more than his share of easy dunks.
Secondly: The Rockets didn't allow the Cavaliers many easy shots. They reduced them to taking jump shots. Some were good looks, others were ill-advised. But considering the Cavaliers weren't doing much in the way of ball movement, that was to be expected.
Lastly: Ron Artest and Shane Battier turned in a masterful performance on LeBron James, who hit for 21 points, but was limited to a single rebound and just one assist. They didn't allow him much in the way of penetration. James hit just 33.33 percent of his attempts, going 7-of-21 from the field.
Add those all up and it's a recipe for a loss Making things worse: Ben Wallace will sit out the next 4-6 weeks with a fractured right fibula.
Ron Artest on keeping LeBron James on the perimeter for his shots:
Post mortem: Cavs 94, Grizzlies 74.
Was anyone able to stay awake during that? Let's face it; it was over after the first quarter when the Grizzlies looked as if they wanted to hibernate.
LeBron James scores only 15 and the Cavs win? Take it. Cherish it. Yours truly was skeptical as to how the Cavs would look after the masterful performance against the Pistons because Delonte West sat this game out - reportedly as a precaution.
Yet when the starters were in, we saw the same ball movement as the other night and the same number of assists in the stat line.
For the record, West sat out because of soreness in the right wrist that he'd fractured, it had to be a decision made just before game time.
What do you read into it? It's Tuesday. They played the Grizzlies and it's February. Besides who knows if or when in the playoffs the experience some of those bench players get now will come in handy.
The Cavs go into a four-game road trip and a span of a couple weeks where 8-of-10 games are on the road. Heading into that storm with a five-game winning streak gives them some momentum.
Game: Cavs (43-11) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (15-40)
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: LeBron James (F), Ben Wallace (F), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Tarence Kinsey(G); Mo Williams (G). Rudy Gay (F); Hakim Warrick (F); Marc Gasol (C); O.J. Mayo (G); Mike Conley G).
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won four consecutive; the Grizzlies have lost four in a row.
This year: The Cavs ran into the Grizzlies while as they endured a 12-game losing streak the last itme and won 107-87, but it wasn't a piece of cake.
Injuries-inactives: Sasha Pavlovic (high right ankle sprain), Eric Snow (knee). Grizzlies: Mike Wilks (ACL)
Officials: Joey Crawford, Tommy Nunez Jr. and Michael Smith. Two things to watch:
Someone on press row had to wake me when this one was over because the Cavs 99-78 win over the Pistons tonight was a snoozefest from the first quarter on.
The most excitement came toward the end of the game when fans wondered whether the team's deep bench players would score the magical 100 points to score them a free chalupa.
As you can see by the score they left disappointed.
If Friday night belonged to LeBron James, this one was Delonte West's. Injured since Jan. 15, he returned to score 25 points including hitting 5-of-5 from the three-point arc.
Game: Cavs (41-11) vs. Detroit Pistons (27-26)
Broadcast: TV: ESPN. WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilguaskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Pistons Tayshaun Prince (F); Antonio McDyess (F); Rasheed Wallace (C); Allen Iverson (G); Rodney Stuckey (G).
Injured-inactive: Cavs: Sasha Pavlovic (ankle)
Officials: Joe Forte, Gary Zielinski, Eric Dalen
This year: The series is tied 1-1, the Cavs won the last meeting on Feb. 1 90-8- at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Streaking: Cavs have won three in a row; the Pistons are losers of five consecutive.
Three things to watch:
Post-mortem: Cavs 111, Bucks 103
Yes, that was something to behold. Cavs fans have seen LeBron James carry the team before, but on few occasions have they seen him carry it quite like that.
Unleashing a 24-point barrage - 16 of it in the first 2:50 of the third quarter - James may as well had donned a cape and slapped an ''S'' on his chest because he took the Cavs from a six-point halftime deficit to a 14-point lead in that span.
What's amazing is that he did it with three-pointers that he shot from further away each time. Some of us on press row replayed footage online after the game and came to the conclusion that one shot came from at least 30 feet away.
By the time he was through he had his teammates jumping and giggling on the bench and even the fans cheering on the Bucks left impressed with his display.
He was hot in the first half scoring 25 points and perhaps a wicked three-pointer to end the half set the tone for him in the third, but Coach Mike Brown gave credit to the team's defense which came out blazin' to start the half.
Added incentive came from an imbroglio that saw Charlie Villanueva draw a Flagrant Foul-2 for an elbow that landed to Anderson Varejao's face. Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas went to protect his teammate and soon found Villanueva's hand around his neck. Officials ejected the Bucks' player, Ilgauskas got T'd up.
The funniest part, however, came from referee Luis Grillo's takedown of Villanueva to avoid more violence. That moment seemed to motivate the Cavaliers more and from there it was a matter of when, not if, they won.
Milwaukee Bucks Coach Scott Skiles on the Varejao indident:
It begins with a whisper on a blog then blossoms into something bigger.
Such and such player is going here. This dude is going there. In the area of journalism, the rumor and innuendo take some getting used to.
For instance the Cavaliers have supposedly asked about the availability of Antawn Jamison of the Washington Wizards according to one report. Made a concerted effort to get Amar'e Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns according to a myriad of others. And now they are targeting Richard Jefferson of the Milwaukee Bucks and his 18 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, according to Yahoo Sports.
The bait for Jefferson's services: Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract which would get the Bucks some cap relief. Jefferson has approximately $29 million left on his contract and the Cavs are one of few teams in a position of not having to worry about that issue.
But why would you do this deal if you're Milwaukee? What's the upside other than freeing up money? They are in the hunt to play sacrificial lamb in the opening round of the playoffs.
If you're the Cavaliers and you can do this deal - Szczerbiak for Jefferson - you take it and run cackling like a villain an a black-and-white western. That's why it's likely nothing more than rumor - without another player it doesn't make sense.
There are tell tale signs that the Cavs are busy at something - what it is, no one has quite figured out yet. Besides, they could be trying like hell to work out a deal but nothing pans out. What is sure is that we will know approximately 12 hours from now.
Cavs 93, Raptors 76
The Cavaliers should have won this game in the first half. It's that simple, but they were their own worst enemy. They went into the locker room leading 47-41, but that could have easily been double digits.
The problem: they committed 11-of-20 of their turnovers in the first half leading to 10 Raptors points. Ultimately, fans cannot quibble with the end results, which was victory sparked a return to the defense they featured earlier in the season.
They held the Raptors to 36.5 percent shooting from the field, blocked seven shots and had seven steals. They also crushed the Raptors on the boards 48-32, led by a season high from Anderson Varejao with 14.
Offensively, they accomplished something they'd not done in a while which was getting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas established in the low post - giving him a couple of easy shots. For them to have success in the post season, they will have to do this more.
At the half: The Cavs got off to a shaky start as you might expect after a prolonged break, but turned it around. They seemed to find their defensive rhythm again, holding the Raptors to under 40 percent in the first half, with Anderson Varejao leading the way with three blocked shots and nine rebounds.
But where there's good, there's bad and in this case it comes in the form of turnovers by the Cavs as they've given up 11 in the first half leading to 10 Raptors points.
Game: Cavs vs. Toronto Raptors
Last time: Cavs beat the Raptors 101-83 on Feb. 3.
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio. Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilguaskas (C); Tarence Kinsey (G); Mo Williams (G). Raptors: Shawn Marion (F); Joey Graham (F); Andrea Bargnani (F); Anthony Parker (G); Jose Calderon (G).
Officials: Greg Willard, Tony Brown, Kevin Fehr
Injured and inactive: Cavs: Eric Snow (knee), Ben Wallace (lacerations); Delonte West (wrist). Raptors: Chris Bosh (knee).
Streaking: Cavs have won one in a row, the Raptors two.
Two things to look for:
Home, new home: How Shawn Marion reacts to his new environs, having recently come from the Miami Heat.
Rust, rust rust: First game afte rthe All-Star break, it's certain that both teams will have to shake off some rust tonight.
From the coach's office:
Mike Brown on J.J. Hickson's play:
You've likely read it here and here and here:
The Cavs are in the market for the Phoenix Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire according to those reports. OK. I get that. They're so close that they can taste. An NBA championship or two over the next couple years will likely be enough for LeBron James to stay put.
On some level, dealing with the Suns makes sense: Danny Ferry and Suns GM Steve Kerr have a relationship dating back to their Cavs days. You think that Pau Gasol trade from the Grizzlies to the Lakers wasn't helped by the fact that Jerry West had ties to both teams?
Will the Cavs do something? I wouldn't put it past Danny Ferry, given the trade he pulled off at the deadline last season. But a source close to the team said Saturday that they're not looking to do anything before the deadline.
Do you believe it? It's pro sports. What's true one day isn't necessarily so the next.
It would be easy to explain what happened to the Cavaliers in Indianapolis, but sometimes it's best to hear it with your own ears. In the audio, Brown, LeBron James and Mo Williams are talking about referee Joe Crawford's controversial call: brown-james-williams2
Game: Cavs vs. Indiana Pacers
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilguaskas (C); Wally Szczerbiak (G); Mo Williams (G). Pacers: Danny Granger (F); Troy Murphy (F); Roy Hibbert (C); Jarrett Jack (G); T.J. Ford (G).
Injured and inactive: Cavs: Eric Snow, Tarence Kinsey, Delonte West. Pacers: Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster, Jamaal Tinsley. Officials: Joe Crawford, Bernie Adams and Eric Dalen Streaking: Cavs have lost one, as have the Pacers. Two things to look for:
Life must be easy for Lamar Odom: put on a cape in Cleveland and turn into Superman. The Lakers forward certainly looked like that for much of the game against the Cavaliers, scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.
Odom created matchup problems that were exacerbated by the absence of Sasha Pavlovic, who left the game with a sprained ankle in the first quarter. With LeBron James on Kobe Bryant, he couldn't switch and that left a plethora of people trying to guard Odom.
It didn't help that others were, including Lakers center Pau Gasol, were getting easy points in the paint. Ultimately they won this one. The Cavs will have much to ponder between now and the playoffs.
At the half: Cavs 61, Lakers 51
Given the Lakers lead in almost every statistical category except one, they should be up. But the Cavs lead shot 8-of-12 from three-point territory. To give them an advantage.
Lamar Odom has 11 poitns for the Lakers at half and most of them have come on easy buckets. If they do not find a way to seal that off, and the paint in general, they could find themselves in trouble the second half.
Game: Cavaliers (39-9) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (40-9)
Broadcast: TV: WEWS (Channel 5) WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Sasha Pavlovic (G); Mo Williams (G). Lakers: Luke Walton (F); LaMar Odom (F); Pau Gasol (C); Kobe Bryant (G); Derek Fisher (G).
Injured-inactives: Cavs: Eric Snow (knee); Delonte West (wrist). Lakers: Andrew Bynum (knee)
Streaking: The Cavaliers have won four in a row and have a 23-game home winning streak on the line. The Lakers have won five in a row.
What to watch:
With the football season officially over - and no that unnecessary Pro Bowl doesn't count - this is the time where the sports media world begins to scrounge for any and every story it can get its hands on.
Witness this week's topic: Can LeBron beat Kobe's 62 at the Garden? Me, personally, I don't care. And personally, when LeBron said that he wasn't a video game the other night and couldn't summon 60 or 70 points on a whim after a win over the Raptors, I took it to heart.
The guy's competitive, certainly. He's not above reaching for a milestone. And although he says he doesn't keep an eye on stats, he somehow realizes when he's remarkably close to a triple-double. Witness the way he lunged for that final ball with two seconds left to secure last night's triple double.
But he did want to prove something last night. He wanted to show the world who might be the all-around better ball player and set the stage for what should be a soap operatic like duel at Quicken Loans Arena at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
But let's go back to the former for a moment. James hit 52, dished out 11 assists, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. Kobe: 61 points, three assists and no rebounds. Ummm...you tell me who had the better game.
At this point, there is no debate. James did. As for Sunday's game. That should prove interesting. The Cavs went to the coast a few weeks back without Z and Delonte and laid a big fat rotten egg. Much of that was due to what the Lakers and Phil Jackson threw at them.
Now they get Z back and chances are I'll be ambivalent about this game if the Cavs win. Why? The Lakers lost Andrew Bynum to a knee injury this week. The excuse we had is now one they do. We shall see what happens, but I'm also expecting more in the way of a duel between LeBron and Kobe.
Kobe served notice against the Knicks. LeBron answered. Now it's on.
And while "will LeBron beat Kobe this week" was the huge topic, it sure as hell wasn't a story. That comes Sunday.
Post-mortem: Cavs 101, Raptors 83
Believe it or not, the game shouldn't have been close. The Cavs jumped out to a 23 point lead at one point, but the Raptors proved ferocious cutting it to eight on a few occasions.
The difference in the game: the fourth quarter when the Cavs got back into a defensive frame of mind. Coach Mike Brown was still in awe of two plays that LeBron James made in that period, the most obvious being a monster rejection of a would-be Chris Bosh dunk.
The second involved turning what could have been a Jermaine O'Neal dunk into a turnover.
But just as much credit goes to Daniel Gibson for pacing the Cavs with 10 four quarter points. He hit 4-of-4 shots in the quarter, including two three-pointers.
Overall the Cavs held the Raptors to 39.7 percent shooting in the game and a rather anemic 8 percent from the three-point arc.
Mike Brown on the defensive effort in the fourth quarter:
In case you hadn't heard, Mo Williams still has a shot at making the NBA All-Star Game because the Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson suffered a separated shoulder against the Dallas Mavericks Monday night.
Already the jockeying has begun for other teams to get their players on the spot - most notably it comes from - of all places - New York as media there make the case for David Lee, last year's Eastern Conference Player of the Week. And with his stats: 16 points, 11.7 rebounds per game can't be overlooked, but sorry, and maybe I'm biased. Actually, I'm likely to be biased here.
You see, although they play different positions, Mo Williams' numbers with respect to scoring compare favorably with Lee's at 17.3 points per game. But because their positions are different an apple-to-apple comparison proves virtually impossible, so what does that leave us with?
For me it's simple: impact.
The Cavaliers would have likely won at least 45-50 games without Williams this season and grabbed a mid-range seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs bracket, but with him they challenge for the No. 1 see and are on pace to win more than 60 games and Williams is the primary reason.
Ben Wallace said it best last week when he called it a shamockery that Williams didn't make it on his merits last week. In his last five games he averaged 25 poitns per game and, more importantly, he is the one player on the roster who can maintain a lead or takeover a game.
Given Williams' impact and the Cavs' record, the NBA - that means David Stern in this case - has the chance to right an injustice.
So, have you ever sat at your desk trying to accomplish a task and haven't been able to because you don't have the materials or technology you need ?
That' s been me the past couple of days with this blog. Apparently there's been some type of problem with the server. I spent two-thirds of the Magic game trying to post and after dealing with the same problem with the Clippers game, I said for get it. Obviously, it's working again.
Too bad that happened, because there was such fun stuff to deal with in the past few days - some of it related to one LeBron James.
First up, a little shout out to one Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. Bianchi wrote a scintillating piece about, of all things, LeBron James bolting the Cavaliers for the New York Knicks.
Why might you ask? Well, because Shaquille O'Neal did it to the Magic back in the day. You know - back when Shaq was SHAQ and not shaq. I have few problems with Bianchi's prognosticating. Heck, that's what we journalists do when we don't have an original idea. Notice how I admit that.
Of course, there's that matter of a little factual error where Bianchi states that if James wanted to re-sign with the Cavs he would have done so already. Ummmm...gee, nevermind that little NBA rule that says he can't sign any type of extension until July. That one error is for Bianchi's editor to contend.
But I take issue with this little gem that ends his column: