But LeBron bailed their asses out. LeBron found Gibson for a 3 and hit two backbreakers of his own to seal the game. I'm torn with this... LeBron stepped up, hit some huge shots and he got the Cavs a victory... However... those weren't exactly shots you'd call 'good'. Here's what the Hornets had to say:
The Hornets' defensive strategy down the stretch was to force James to take the toughest shots possible. They were able to do that, but what they didn't bank on was James making them anyway."We got what we wanted," Hornets forward David West said. "He took a 3 with a hand in his face. He just knocked it down. We know he's going to take the shot. You've got to live with him hitting a 27-footer or whatever it was he hit."So, LeBron and the Cavs did exactly what the Hornets wanted them to do, but hit a few ridonkulous shots. I love that he had the killer instinct, I just hate the shot selection. It's great for a night, but I'm not sure you can make this a regular thing.
Did I mention that they executed in the first half? Z finished with 11 points on 5-10 shooting with 9 boards and a block. All 11 points were scored in the first half (when the Cavs looked inside and LeBron went inside) and he got just one shot in the second. Look, I'm not a basketball expert (obviously) but if your center goes 5-9 from the floor and has 11 points in the first half, you'd think you'd look to him at least a little bit in the second. Guess not...
I love David West. If you've read this blog with any frequency at all, you'll know why I like this guy's game: fundamental post moves, rebounds well and hits the open (spot up) jumper. Is there anything more you want from your power forward? He's not flashy, he's a not freak athlete (he's undersized) but he plays the right way. With Chris Paul having an off night (was in foul trouble all night and just scored 7 points- but did have 5 assists and 5 boards) West kept the Hornets in the game with 25 points (10-21), 10 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block. Pretty good.
I feel this needs to be mentioned. LeBron played 43 minutes. Pavlovic only played 19 minutes. I know Pavs is just coming back from being sick and all, but he couldn't have taken 4-6 of LeBron's minutes? Also, Hughes played 43 minutes as well, but who cares?
Speaking of...the Larry Hughes update: 11 points (good-ish), 5-16 shooting (bad), 0-1 FTA (bad-for the miss and the lack of attempts), 8 rebounds (good) and 5 assists (WTF? He had 5?). If you look past the fact that he needed 16 shots to score 11 points, Hughes had a pretty decent game. It's real nice to see him get 8 boards (guards rebounding = fast break) and I'm actually pretty shocked he got 5 assists (I've never seen Hughes hit the open man after a pick and roll- he either shoots it or attempts to, and by the time he realizes the shot isn't there, the guy who set the pick is no longer open). Hughes did have a decent drive or two (spinning floaters? when did this happen?) but overall the shot selection left a bit to be desired.
Hooray for Boobie! Gibson did a decent job on Chris Paul for the bulk of the evening and he hit a big 3 down the stretch (he was 3-4 from downtown. He's playing with more confidence and taking more shots (though he's needs to improve on shooting off of curls) and getting inside more (for his own shot and for dishing off). We missed Gibson's best play of the night (a 3 pt play off of a steal of an inbounds pass) because of Fox Sports Ohio showing a Cavalier make an unhappy face. Thanks guys. Show the game.
The bench was OK. Pavlovic played well in his given opportunities (3-6 shots in 19 minutes), Varejao played well, but didn't rebound (9 points, 3 assists, a few charges drawn but just 2 boards) and Marshall hit a 3 and got two points in the post, but had 0 rebounds. Fantastic. And let's not forget Eric Snow, who played 14 minutes and recorded 2 assists and a foul. Well done.
I almost saw my dream lineup. Well, it's not that special, but I'd like to see what a five of Gibson, Pavlovic, James, Varejao and Z could do. You have post play, shooters, aggressive defense, guys who crash the offensive boards and LeBron. Best of all, no one named Eric, Larry or David. The lineup wasn't quite there versus NOOCH, as Hughes was out there instead of Gibson (and Gibson subbed in for Pavlovic when the latter rolled his ankle). I will say that there was never a lineup of Z and 4 guys who can't shoot... so that's a good thing (seriously, Snow, Wesley, Hughes, Varejao and Z?? WTF is that? Why would that ever happen?).
I'm scared. So not only are the Cavs playing the Mavericks at home on Thursday (where they are 27-3) but they're playing on national TV. Most of the Cavs most horrendous losses have occurred with the nation watching (the Phoenix games, a Chicago game or two, some ugly Heat games and a Detroit game which I've forced myself to forget). Needless to say, this has all the makings of a fantastic evening for Cavs fans.