This one hurt. The Cavs were in control for most of this game and they had Seattle going through the motions. Ray Allen was having an off night (6-21 from the floor and I'm not sure I can really credit the Cavalier defense. He missed some open looks) and the Sonics just looked listless. The crowd came alive in the fourth quarter when the Cavs let the Sonics get second chance possession by allowing Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox grab some offensive rebounds.
They let Seattle hang around. Once the crowd got into it and the Sonics could smell a win, the Cavs were basically done. They just couldn't match Seattle's energy once Wilcox and Collison fired them up.
Silver lining? Am I reaching here? At least Cavs stopped them the first time. The Cavs played some solid D for most of the night. At least a few of the offensive rebounds were off of long jumpers that the Cavs forced the Sonics to take. I don't want to make excuses, but sometimes you can box out all you want and ball bounces over you or takes a weird hop (can you tell I play center/power forward in my church league?). That being said, if you had put a body on Collison, maybe he doesn't get those long boards.
Old habits die hard. Early in the game the Cavs drove and threw the ball into the post. The offense was running smoothly and the Cavs held a nice advantage. The second half rolls around and the Cavs start lofting jumpers. The Cavs shot 18 threes and made just 3. That's a blistering 16.7%.
Case in point: Z. Z had 16 points in the first half and finished the game with 24. The Cavs could've definitely gotten him some more touches in the second half. I know the Sonics went zone here and there, but it's really no excuse; feed the bigs. (Gooden should've gotten some more post touches as well. It seemed like he knew he could take Collison every time)
James is playing much more focussed and in control. LeBron finished with 30 points, 8 assists and 7 boards, but those 8 assists are misleading. His passes led to at least 6 free throws for other Cavaliers, and he'd find guys open and they'd get fouled (but no basket). The next possession after he took a wild-ish jumper, LeBron drove straight to the hoop and got a foul. These are the little things I love to see; recognizing that he isn't making the defense work enough and changing it up, taking it to the rim and drawing some fouls.
But it wasn't all perfect. James didn't have a field goal in the final period. That is not good. He too often settled for jumpers (though he wasn't the only one). I could've used a time out by Brown and see him address the jump shooting (to be fair, Seattle often came out of TOs playing zone, so that probably screwed some things up, but still. Get it inside).
What's with the stone hands? LeBron's assist total could've been even higher if Anderson Varejao could've held onto the ball. Andy miffed a couple of LeBron's passes which could've led to some easy scores. Z and Gooden (and Hughes) misplayed a pass here and there as well, but Varejao lost more than his share (he's usually very sure handed, so I dunno...).
The rest of Andy's night wasn't that great. In 18 minutes Varejao only had 3 boards to go along with his 7 points. Sure he drew a charge, but he also committed some dumb, cheap fouls. He also was just 3-6 from the line.
The rest of the Cavs fared much better from the charity stripe. As a team, the Cavs shot 80% from the line, which is roughly 10 percentage points higher than their season average. LeBron was a healthy 13-15 (though he did miss one down the stretch). Z, Gooden, Marshall and Hughes were all perfect from the line (4-4, 2-2, 3-3 and 3-3 respectively). In case you were wondering, Eric Snow was 1-2.
Hughes was back. That is always good to see. I was kinda surprised that Brown A) had him guard Ray Allen all game (I mean, isn't that Eric Snow's job?) and B) played Hughes 41 minutes coming off of an injury. Hughes finished with a 7-5-5 line and I thought he could've gotten to the line at least 3 more times. He took the ball to the hoop strong (mostly in the first half, like the rest of the team) and got some contact with no whistles. The refs weren't particularly good, but still, Hughes should get a little more love from the refs in my opinion.
Where's the bench? With Hughes coming off a quad injury, I'd figure we'd see some extended minutes from either Boobie Gibson or Sasha Pavlovic. Well... if Hughes plays 41 minutes and LeBron logs 44 (44?? Come on man, sit the guy), it doesn't leave many minutes for back up swing men. Pavlovic continued his erratic play; he played pretty solid defense and grabbed some boards in traffic but he committed a dumb foul (bailing out Damien Wilkins on a turn around jumper) and he made a bone headed turnover. As for Gibson? He never got off the bench.
Speaking of dumb turnovers... The Cavs had a play where they threw the ball away on the inbounds. But I didn't see it. Why? FSN Ohio was showing a replay. We missed the turnover and the subsequent Seattle bucket. Nice. Good job guys.
2-2 on the road trip... These guys coulda/shoulda been 3-1 heading into their game with the Trail Blazers. But hey, they only won two road games all of December and they were both versus the Hawks, so can I really complain about non-Atlanta road wins? Well... they let this one slip away; it wasn't a gimme, but it was definitely winnable. They responded well after their shellacking by the Suns, I'm interested to see how they respond coming off this close loss.