some random thoughts from the Portland game
I was kind of concerned going into this game. For a couple reasons: 1) Zach Randolph 2) Portland's point guards 3) Zach Randolph 4) Cleveland playing down to lesser teams 5) Zach Randolph. I was worried if one of Portland's guards (namely Jarett Jack) got hot, then the Cavs might be in for a long night. The Cavs came out and played intense from the get go, they were double teaming Randolph early and often and they seemed to be ready for the Blazers.
That being said, they still let Portland hang around too much for my tastes. I'm nitpicking, right? The Cavs didn't win by enough. The Cavs led by 18 going into the fourth quarter, I would've liked them to push the lead to about 20-22 by 7-8 minutes and just put the Blazers away. Portland cut the lead to 12 and kept hanging around just enough for Mike Brown to keep playing the starters, even though the game was never really in doubt.
The big story of the night? Larry Hughes. Hughes went down with 6:20 left to play in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Martell Webster just rolled over onto his leg during a scramble for a loose ball. X-rays were negative and the Cavaliers are saying it's not serious. Hughes didn't return to play and they had a bag of ice taped to it for the rest of the game. He walked off the court on his own power, so I guess that's a good sign. I wonder if he would've come back if this game had meant anything.
Fox Sports Net has been getting better. They stopped with the weird camera angles (you know, the ones where you can't see the play), so that's a good thing. I'm getting more and more used to Fred McLeod and I think by the time we hit the All-Star break I won't even notice it. However, Fred did pull out a Joe Tait impression, and let's just saying he should never do that again. Scott Williams? He did a bad Portuguese accent, talked about playing basketball in his dreams (and being the number 1 option) and started asking about "Hang on Snoopy". Ugh.
LeBron had a LeBron type game. 32 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block. Ri-god-damn-diculous. From what I've seen this season, he seems to pick his spots early in the game and really try to get his teammates involved. Then, once the second half rolls around, he just takes the game over. He also had a ridonkulous pass to Hughes on a fast break. It was awesome.
One of the teammates he kept trying to get involved? Z. Unfortunately, it didn't work out too well. Z just had a terrible offensive game, he was 1-7 from the field and threw in 5 turnovers just for good luck. You can tell he's now just unsure about even his post moves; he has no confidence. I really don't know what the Cavs should do at this point besides just encouraging him to take good shots and don't rush anything. However, I thought his defense was as good as his offense was bad. He challenged numerous shots and came away with 2 blocks (and one that looked to me like a block, but was called a foul). He made his presence known and I thought he played excellent overall defense. Brown even brought him back out when the Blazers made a mini fourth quarter run.
Dan Gibson played. Or is it Booby? Boobie? Either way, Gibson got his first minutes of his career tonight. Check that. First minute. He didn't exactly have a whole lot of time, but he did get an assist to Pavlovic (that got the Cavs up to 100 points, into free chalupa territory). I'm relatively surprised that we haven't seen Brown put Gibson out there just to defend one of the oppoenents quicker guards. Put him out there with Snow or Hughes (don't give him the PG responsibilities) but keep him out there for spot up 3s and defending the Nate Robinson's of the league. This is one of the reasons I'd have like to seen the Cavs put the game away earlier in the fourth. More Booby time.
Drew Gooden rebounded from two sub par games. Gooden finished with 17 points on 6-12 shooting. He was active early on, getting some early points and therefor he was active the entire game. He also played some decent defense on Randolph, who ended with 26 points, but got 20 free throws on the night, making 12. The Cavs made him work for his points.
Eric Snow was 6-6 from the floor. Ya, you read that right. Two nights after Damon Jones just goes off, Eric Snow is perfect from the field. And these weren't all lay-ups either; he shot a couple (wide open) jumpers. When the Cavs point guards hit their shots, the Cavs are going to be real tough to beat.
The bench didn't do a whole lot. Nobody scored in double figures, Varejao was in a foul trouble all night and they didn't hit a 3 ball (Jones took 5 of 'em) until the final minute of the game (Pavlovic's chalupa shot). They weren't exactly bad but you couldn't say that anyone had a real solid game.
Strike that, David Wesley was bad. Wesley only played 6 minutes but he took one awful 3 and managed to dribble the ball off his leg. Unguarded. It could've been the new ball (I think it went off his leg, it may have just gotten away from him) but it was a mental error either way. The new ball did alter a Larry Hughes entry pass to Marshall. Hughes put some spin on the ball and it just never caught the floor and had a clean bounce. That would be the first time I've seen the ball have any effect on a play (in Cavs game that is).
The Cavs are on a four game win streak and they play Minnesota on Friday. It's the first night of a back-to-back with Washington and I hope the Cavs are looking ahead to Saturday's game. The Timberwolves are another team that Cleveland should beat, you'd like to see them take care of business and let LeBron (and Hughes if he plays) rest up for the next night.