It was closer than that final score suggests. Basically the opposite of their first meeting (where the 19 point loss looked better than it really was); the game was close for 3+ and the Suns just pulled away at the end.
This was winnable. Going into the fourth quarter, the Cavs were down 91-87. The Cavs got some stops (actually, the Suns simply missed some threes, good defense boys!) but they couldn't capitalize. Shawn Marion scored the first points of the quarter at 10 minute mark to bump their lead to 93-87.... and with 8:10 left to play, the Cavs were down 99-87. And that was all she wrote.
Can a the offense be the problem, even when the Cavs scored 100? Yes. The Cavs put up a 13 point fourth quarter. Terrible. Play all the defense you want, when you're scoring less than 15 points in a period (especially against the Suns) you're not going to win many games.
More fourth quarter (actually, the entire second half). In the first half, the Cavs were challenging Phoenix inside and drawing fouls, with LeBron leading the way. LeBron was feeling it and abusing the Suns down low. The second half? Not so much. LeBron shot zero free throws in the second half. Wanna say the Suns clamped down? Fine; but the Cavs fell in love with the jumper and stopped working the ball in the lane.
LeBron needs to be a leader. True, he passed the ball to the open man and sometimes it worked and sometimes it went to David Wesley. I get it, he's sharing the ball. But he needs to demand the ball on the block and just take his man. He's bigger and quicker than anyone down there; whenever they utilize him in the post it seems to work. He needs to demand the ball.
Larry Hughes. Needs be traded. (He took too many jumpers, had 2 charges, got a shot blocked and he lost his man more than a few times on defense). I can understand giving Hughes time to work out of his funk but come the fourth quarter, isn't it time to sit him? Brown just kept waiting for him to come to life but it never happened. You know it's bad when there are shouts of 'put in Sasha' in the fourth quarter.
More Brown. The substitution pattern didn't really make a whole lot of sense. With Hughes struggling, you'd expect to see some Sasha Pavlovic action. Nope; a game after starting for LeBron, Sasha logs a DNP-CD. Normally, I'd complain if Z only got 13 minutes, but it made sense versus the Suns (especially considering how the Cavs were guarding the pick and roll, but we'll get to that in a bit). Snow only played 13 minutes as well, but his absence led to 16 minutes for David Wesley (which really wasn't that awful considering David's recent play and the fact that Shannon Brown is hurt, but I have a feeling we'd have seen Wesley no matter how Brown is feeling).
Brown did play Boobie. In 19 minutes Gibson scored 6 points (both 3s) and had 5 assists and 3 rebounds. He missed a couple of two point shots (one was a floater where he totally faked out Marion). He picked up 3 quick fouls in the first half, but Brown actually brought him back in mid-second quarter with those 3 fouls. Hopefully this is a stretch where Brown will give him 20 minutes a night before sending him back to the bench.
The defense confused me. The Cavs seemed to have a plan to switch defenders whenever the Suns ran a pick and roll. They didn't fight through the screens, they automatically switched. This led to numerous Diaw on Gibson, Stoudamire on Snow and Nash versus Zydrunas match ups. The Suns kept running the pick and rolls to get the mismatch and the Cavs kept giving it to them. I didn't understand this at all.
The refs stunk. The Cavs had 25 fouls to the Suns 13. Phoenix shot 21 free throws to the Cavs 14 (both teams were under 70% from the stripe). Not all of this is the refs; the Cavs fouled a lot on defense because they were out of position and they also stopped taking the ball inside. However, there were a couple bogus charge calls on the Cavaliers (not all were bogus), a rookie call or two on Gibson and too many ticky-tack calls in my opinion (especially in the first half).
Sights at the game. This was the third game (second at the Q) I've been to this season and this was the first one where I didn't get to see Ira Newble play. Damn. Also, during a quarter break the Cavs had a group of kids come out dressed like Michael Jackson and dance to classic Jacko songs. Yup... Little kids. Michael Jackson.
The Suns are good. They shot 57% from the field and 46% from 3 point range. They had 3 players score 20 points or more and one with 19 off the bench (Barbosa). Oh yea, Nash also had 15 assists.
Will LeBron play versus Golden State? LeBron was a game time decision for the Suns game (they even had Pavlovic's number 3 up on the scoreboard) and after the game he said his toe was bothering him and he may have to take off some games to let it heal. I'm OK with this, he needs the rest (Brown plays him way too many minutes). It could be a good thing to let the Cavs play a few games without him so they can develop some chemistry with LBJ out of the lineup (and then Brown will feel comfortable resting James during games which will lead to a more focused and aggressive James (as he won't be saving himself)).