Monday, December 11, 2006

New Orleans/Oklahahoma 95, Cleveland 89

Dammit. This is a game that they could've won. I had the pleasure of hearing some of this game on the radio and Joe Tait was saying how he always worries about these types of games- missing a ton of players, at home after they've lost a bunch. The Hornets were like a wounded animal.

The starting lineup didn't change. With Drew Gooden still out and Larry Hughes in just his second game back, Mike Brown kept both Anderson Varejao and Boobie Gibson in the starting lineup. Brown might have a hard time taking them out; Gibson had 14 points and Varejao had 17 and added 8 boards (obviously, Hughes will return to the starting rotation when fully healthy, I'm not as confident Gooden will).

LeBron didn't play particularly well. It's hard to say a guy didn't play well with a line like this: 15 pts, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. The problem was he shot too many jumpers and didn't get to the line (only 1 free throw attempt).

Also, Tyson Chandler's late block on James? That was a foul. Twice. Desmond Mason fouled LeBron as he was going up and Chandler got him with lower body and forearm. Bad no call. Especially bad no call on a super star; come on NBA, I've been waiting my whole life for the Cavs to have a star of this magnitude- I want to cash in on the cheap whistles too.

Does anybody get excited when Donyell Marshall comes in? Marshall has had a sub par year so far and I never like how the Cavaliers play when he's out there. They seem to settle for way too many jumpers and they don't crash the boards. Marshall also had a terrible sequence where he missed a layup and fouled Chris Paul on a jumper, late (basically after he shot it) for a 3 point play. Not a good 10 seconds. (But here's the thing: I get pretty frustrated when I see Donyell just sit out there waiting for a 3, but I never like it when he puts it on the deck and moves towards the hoop either. I just don't. So I guess I'm saying that I have no idea what I would like him to do).

Too many jumpers. Again. The Cavs offense wasn't awful; they passed the ball and got a lot of people involved (like Z, who finished with 15 and 12) but they still settled for a lot of jumpers, especially in the second half. They shot 7-21 from three point range and they only took 17 free throws.

Even though I'm bitching about the jumpers, the defense, not the offense, was the culprit here. Sure I would've liked to see less jumpers and more FTAs, but I would've loved to see someone play some solid D. Chris Paul got whatever he wanted and the Cavs couldn't stop him (11-16, 30 points). I know Paul is great and all, but 11-16 is pretty bad. Make him work. The Hornets shot 54% as a team... not good.

Coach Brown did alright. I saw him yelling, so that's a start. So seeing him actually getting worked up is a start. He didn't really go deep into his bench- only Hughes, Marshall and Jones got off the their ass (take that as you will). I'd have like to see Shannon Brown play a bit more (I know Pavlovic's supporters would've like to seen him out there and David Wesley's supporters? They don't exist). I guess alright means 'nothing glaringly bad'; I mean, he did just lose to 9-10 while letting NOOCH shoot 54%...

I'm not saying the Cavs should've won this game. I don't like saying teams should've won games on the road; road games are tough no matter who you're playing- there are no gimmes. But it is a tough loss to swallow. Especially when you consider that they wasted a 14 point effort by Gibson, a 15 point, 12 board night from Z and Andy's second start goodness.

and finally

You'd have liked them to have won this one and gotten themselves on a win streak. If they had beaten the Hornets, the Cavaliers would've been on a 3 game win streak with upcoming games at home versus Charlotte and Seattle (both extremely winnable). That would've been a nice 5 game win streak going into Saturday's big game against Orlando.


Erik said...

The Cavs might be on to something, at least for the time being, with Gibson starting and Hughes coming in off the bench.

We've been wanting a veteran scorer to act as the sixth man, right? Maybe it can be Hughes. But having said that, Hughes probably wouldn't be happy losing his starting job permanently.

Chris Paul dumped in 30. No surprise, yet another game in which a small, quick guard absolutely killed the Cavs. It's becoming like when the Indians face a soft-tossing lefty. You can pretty much take a good performance to the bank when the Cavs face a guard like Paul.

Even though LeBron didn't score 20, this is the type of game we should be looking for out of this team, final score notwithstanding. Multiple contributions from all over the floor, starters and bench alike.

It's just that pesky little detail of being able to close out tough games on the road.

If this game had been at The Q, I am nearly certain they would have found a way to win.

Ben said...

The soft tossing lefty this is dead on. I hate when the Tribe faces a Moyer... you just know they are going to lose (and it's been this way for years, dating back to Hargrove and Hart. I don't get it).

The fourth quarter was just awful. The Cavs had a 4 or 5 minute stretch where they didn't score at all, and the entire time they were shooting jumpers. Why Brown didn't call a time out I'll never know.

As for Hughes/Gibson, it was telling that with 4 minutes to go in the game that Brown took Hughes out and brought Gibson back in for crunch time. He'll probably say it was because Hughes doesn't have his game legs... but Gibson was playing better.