In case you were wondering (and cared), I was out of town for the last two games (in Columbus for some football game), so that is why there were no recaps for the Wolves and Wizards games.
Drew Gooden had a monster game. 22 points and 15 boards. Well done. As always, when Gooden has a good game, it usually means he had a good start to it. He had 10 points (a couple of nifty three point plays) as well as a bunch of boards (I want to say 8) in the first period. This is coming after a couple clunker games (points-wise, at least). LeBron actively looks to get Drew (as well as Z) involved early in games (to the point where he almost seems to be deferring to them). Tonight it worked out for the best.
The Cavs started out strong... The Cavaliers were up 17-2 at one point and held Memphis to 36 points in the first half. This is a good sign, cause the Cavs actually seemed to be ready for the game and really took it to Memphis. At one point in the second half, they were up 21.
...but let Memphis back into it. Memphis had separate runs of 12-2 and 10-0 in this game (those were fun to watch). The Cavs held them to only 36 in the first half, but let them score 30 in the third period. This is getting pretty annoying. And if it annoys me, I would be willing to bet Mike Brown is a bit miffed as well.
The offense is consistently inconsistent. Stop me if you heard this before: the Cavaliers build a lead (or even a big lead) early on in the game by going inside and sharing the ball. Once they have said lead, they get complacent and shoot too many jumpers. The lead evaporates and Cavaliers now have sweat out a close game, where there wasn't one before.
How come the Cavs always change their style according to the other team? In his write up to the Washington game, Brian Windhorst said that the Cavs were more than happy to adopt the Wizards fast paced style, even though it eventually caught up with them. Also, earlier in the year Mike Brown has said that he sometimes sits Z more than he likes because the other team has gone small. Tonight, Memphis went small 'forcing' Brown to use a lineup featured the entire 3-headed point guard monster on the floor simultaneously. I must say, it was a dream come true to see Jones, Wesley and Snow share the floor. My question is this: why couldn't the Cavs have 'gone big'? Sure, Memphis is quicker, but put LeBron, Sasha, Gooden, Marshall and Z/Varejao out there and make Memphis guard the post. The Cavs built their lead going inside, why not keep pounding them? The Cavs were the good team in this game, force the bad one to play your style; don't adopt theirs (on your home floor no less).
LeBron was so-so. He was passive early on, as usual; opting to get his teammates involved (he finished with 9 assists). But when it seemed time for him to turn it on and take over, he couldn't flip the switch. Part of the problem is that he settled for way too many jumpshots and when he did take the ball to the hoop, he threw up some wild shots. He seemed to be forcing the issue and just kinda in a funk all night.
The stat of the night? LeBron James had 1 free throw attempt. And that one free throw? It came on a defensive 3 in the key. Awesome. So that tells me all of LeBron's shots were clean. He took 21 shots and wasn't fouled at all. Look, I know that James took some ill advised shots (way too many jumpers) and maybe some of his drives were a bit out of control. But I cannot believe that he took 21 shots (he made 7) and wasn't fouled on at least one of them. I mean, last June I watched Dwyane Wade shoot 2,443,543 free throws a game, I expect the same treatment for LeBron during a November game versus Memphis (honestly, no. I don't. I'm actually sick of seeing stars shoot 20 FTs a game. But the fact that LeBron didn't get to the charity stripe at all just seems a bit far fetched to me).
Shannon Brown played. A bit actually (well, 6 minutes, but in a row!). I guess the Cavs built a big enough lead that Mike Brown was comfortable having Brown start the second quarter. He didn't really do much (well, he did have a Sasha Pavlovic-esque charge) but he didn't look awful either. No better or worse than David Wesley.
However, Damon Jones looked much better than David Wesley. Damon scored 21 points, shot the 3 ball really well (5-8) and seemed to really be working his ass off on defense. He may not be starting, but he's playing in crunch time (and playing well).
It would've really nice if the Cavs could've put 'em away early. Cleveland started a stretch of 4 games in 5 nights on Tuesday (they're actually in the middle of a 6 games in 9 day stretch). A blow out win for the Hughe-less Cavs would've been a real nice way to start it off. The 4-in-5 isn't exactly against tough teams (they're in Toronto tomorrow, at Indiana on Friday and back in Cleveland for the Sixers on Saturady), but resting the starters early (and not dealing with a needlessly close game) would've been sweet.