Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cleveland 104, Los Angeles Clippers 92

Larry Hughes was out. Of course he was. Hughes injured his quad somehow (in practice? during the Suns game?) and Sasha Pavlovic started.

Ya, Pavlovic, not Gibson. I figured with how Boobie played the last time he started, he'd be the starter the next time Hughes went down. Guess not. Sasha started and did surprisingly not terrible. Sure he missed a few threes, but he grabbed some rebounds in traffic and didn't commit his usual quota of 2 charges. Pavs finished with 7 points.

When Gibson did play, he didn't exactly light it up. Gibson only played 2 minutes (all in the first half) and got beat a couple times at the defensive end. That may have been the reason Brown didn't use him for the rest of the night.

This was probably the best the offense looked all year. At the very least it was their most consistent offensive effort of the season. The Cavaliers regularly looked inside to Z and Drew Gooden (even LeBron got a steady diet of post touches) and it paid off. There were no scoring droughts or dead times and Z delivered 20 points on 9-13 shooting while Gooden added 11. The Cavs shot 50% from the floor and only hoisted 10 long bombs. They attacked the rim and put pressure on the Clipper defense (the Cavs launched 28 threes versus Phoenix, letting the defense off easy).

In that same vein, in my opinion, this was the best offensive game LeBron played all year. Sure, his numbers aren't overly spectacular (28 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists) but LeBron took the ball to the rim on a regular basis all game long. Not just the first half or not just the second half; he went to the hoop all game. There were no forced shots or terrible threes, LeBron made the defense work (he also made them pay at the line, making 8-8 free throws).

The rest of the team didn't shoot too well from the charity stripe. While LeBron's perfect night was great to see, Z was only 2-6 and Varejao was 1-3. As a team the Cavs shot 23-33, which is right about par for the course.

The battle of goofy looking white big men. Chris Kaman scored 20 points and had 9 rebounds, though he did most of his damage in the first half. Z had 20 and 8 (and 4 assists) and had some big buckets down the stretch (a couple tip ins, an 18 foot jumper and a 'and-1' off a sweet LeBron pass). Z also got Kaman in foul trouble (though Snow forced that fourth foul), which may have fueled the Cavs big run in the third period; the Clipper offense became very Cavalier-like- lots of jumpers and no movement.

The rest of the bigs played, well, big. Gooden had 11 points and 6 boards while Varejao had 7 and 12 respectively. I've never been a big Gooden guy, but he has played GREAT recently; if he can play close to this level somewhat consistently (there's that word again, consistent) the Cavs will be in very good shape. Donyell Marshall got 7 unproductive minutes; he's probably not too happy about it, but you know what? I am. I'm sick of how the offense looks when Marhall parks his huge ass outside the 3 point line. He's not particularly rebounding that well either.

This is the Damon Jones the Cavs thought they were getting last year. Jones hit three more treys against the Clips (and got fouled on one and made all three free throws). He's been good enough that I'm find myself looking past his terrible, terrible defense.

Blizzard in Los Angeles. Eric Snow had a huge game, scoring 18 points on 7-14 shooting. That was the ugliest 18 points on 50% shooting I've ever seen. Snow took the ball to the rim often and made the Clippers at least guard him. The Cavs still had some possessions where the shot clock was winding down and some one decided to give Eric the ball and Snow was either forced to A) create his own shot or B) throw up a jumper. This should never happen. Ever. I'm more comfortable with anybody on this team forcing a shot ahead of Snow; LeBron, Z, Gooden, Jones, Gibson, Varejao, Ira Newb- wait no, check that.

The Cavaliers closed out periods nicely. The Cavs were down 4-6 points most of the second quarter and then finished the quarter strong to cut lead to 1 at halftime (they even had a chance to take the lead). For most of the third quarter, the game was pretty close (tied-3 points) but the Cavs made a late charge to push the lead to 10 points at the quarter break. You can tell this team is get more and more confident as the game (and season) goes on.

and finally...

2-1 on the West coast trip. And sure, that one loss was ugly, but it still only counts as one in the L column. Wasn't it great to see the Cavs bounce right back after getting beat down in the desert? They put that loss behind them behind them and took care of business versus the Clippers. The Cavs got a back-to-back coming up Tuesday versus Seattle and Portland and those games look mighty winnable right now. This West coast trip may turn out to be just what this team needed.


Erik said...

Brian Windhorst says Hughes probably bruised his left quad because he was favoring the leg after his right ankle sprain.

It sucks that Hughes tests everyone's patience so much with these injuries, because he really is a good player, streaky shooting aside.

Ben said...

Ya, if nothing else, they're a better team with Hughes than without.

ESPN the Magazine had a blurb about trading Hughes for Andre Miller... which I don't really understand.

Bad Becks said...

I'm sick of Marshall as well. He doesn't seem to care that he's a 7-footer and would rather keep up his Damon Jones impression.