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.
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.