INDEPENDENCE: Alonzo Gee celebrated the Cavaliers’ victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday with a heavy heart. Gee, an Alabama alumnus, spent the weekend grieving following the Tide’s stunning loss to Auburn in football.
As the Cavs and Bulls were on the court for layup lines just before tip-off, Gee heard the fans roar. He didn’t need to see Auburn’s Chris Davis return the missed field goal 109 yards to know what had transpired.
“I knew we lost after that,” Gee said Monday. “They started calling my name. Teammates, everybody.”
Coach Mike Brown has been calling Gee’s name lately, too. Former coach Byron Scott often hailed Gee as one of the league’s best defenders and never hesitated to use him on opposing point guards, power forwards and anyone in between. Brown has followed a similar path, occasionally using Gee on opposing point guards, but typically using him to slow an opponent’s top shooting guard or small forward.
Part of the problem with the Cavs’ three-guard lineup is defending opposing small forwards. Brown joked Monday that he just flips a coin in determining which of his three guards will play “small forward” on defense.
Dion Waiters primarily drew the assignment Saturday and struggled handling Luol Deng, forcing Brown to revert back to Gee, believing if the Cavs didn’t rotate properly to double Deng, at least Gee could handle him alone.
After the game, Brown called Gee the game’s unsung hero. Andrew Bynum was the star with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in 30 minutes, but Brown was pleased with the way Gee neutralized Deng.
“Luol’s gonna score. You’re not going to stop him,” Brown said. “But Zo made him work in the second half for his points when he tried to post up.
“I thought [Gee] had a big night doing that, especially playing extended minutes, and then playing the right way offensively. He didn’t have huge numbers for us offensively, but I thought he was a great ball-mover, he was a great spacer, and when he had an opportunity to shoot the ball, and/or run the floor and finish, and/or drive and kick, he did.”
Brown has modest expectations for Gee offensively. If Gee can keep the ball moving and knock down open shots, particularly the corner 3-pointers, then the coach will be happy. Gee is shooting 36 percent (5-of-14) on corner 3-pointers this season. He is the definition of a role player, but doesn’t seem to mind.
“I just want to win,” he said. “At the end of the day, if it’s Bynum winning the game, I’m happy. If it’s Kyrie, whoever it is. I just want to win. Whatever I’ve got to go do to win, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The players were given Sunday off after playing on back-to-back nights, but Brown said Bynum arrived at the facility around 9:30 a.m. Sunday for more treatment and maintenance on his body. He reported no ill-effects following a 30-minute night Saturday, easily the most minutes he has played this season.
“He’s been making progress. Our medical team has done a great job, he’s done a great job,” Brown said.
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