No LeBron, no problem. Again. LeBron was out with a minor back spasm but it didn't matter as the Cavs buried the Kings. I guess this means we can look forward to more 'trade LeBron' letters to Branson Wright.
The starting backcourt was fantastic. Hughes and Pavlovic each had 25 points and had 7 and 6 assists, respectively. They were both kind of sloppy with the ball (3 and 5 TOs) but more than made up for it with their attacking style.
Ira Newble. I don't even know what to say. Ira scored 12 points (he started the game with 8 for the season). He made all three 3s he took but he missed two layups and he was 1-3 from the foul line. Sounds about right.
Z had a near triple double. Ya, you read that right. 19 points, 10 boards and 7 assists. I love when the Cavs get him the ball on a regular basis, you know why? He give it back. It also helps that the Kings had to double Z, leading to a lot of open 3s, which the Cavs made (it's just that simple sometimes).
It helps that they ran the offense. Guys were moving without the ball, the ball was moving and the Cavs were looking towards the post- they looked like a team with an offensive game plan. Except when the Kings went zone. Then they shot jumpers just because. But once they figured out the zone (I believe Austin Carr mentioned that going inside might work) it was smooth sailing for the rest of the game.
More announcing. Fox Sports Ohio was just in rare form. We graphic comparing Shannon Brown to Dr J. We had a bizarre stat that somehow showed James as the best defensive small forward in the NBA. Austin Carr sang us a song about offense. Fred McLeod called Newble a "3pt marksman". Carr had the following lines: "The Cavaliers look winded. They really ar-are gasping for air out there. All three of- all four of 'em- just five of them, really." and my personal favorite: "It looked like, the way the shot was going, if he hadn't of fouled him, he might of made that shot. It looked good until he hit him on the arm." That second one is quite amazing.
And let's not forget their Browns coverage. Austin also broke down the first round of the NFL draft. The scary thing is, even though he didn't know anyones name (a lot of 'that guy') he basically feels the same way about things as I do. Draft Thomas and if he's not there, draft Peterson. And if you get Thomas first, go for a RB in the second. He even wanted Brady Quinn (that guy from Notre Dame) but still recommended Thomas. Awesome.
Back to basketball... first half: sloppy. second half: spectacular. The Cavs had some weird, ugly turnovers in the first half (passes directly to Kings, bad passes in general, Drew Gooden's Smush Parker impression and too much jumping in the air without thinking first. Also, jumpshots. Crappy ones). The Cavs cut down the turnovers in the second half, attacked the hoop and just blew the Kings away. Pavs had 18 points in the 3rd quarter alone (which was almost half of the Cavs 35 for the period). They had 38 points in the 4th. Ridiculous.
Garbage time was fun. Damon Jones and David Wesley jacked up 3s at will, Shannon Brown and Donyell Marshall threw down some emphatic dunks (yes, Donyell Marshall dunked the ball. And hard. Who knew?) and Dwayne Jones fouled a lot (2 in 3 min, but he wanted more).
Hughes played 41 minutes. And he sat out the last 5. Not sure what's up with that, no other Cavalier played more than 33...
So... back spasm, huh? Doesn't sound good. But the Cavs said it was a minor injury and that LeBron didn't even know he was going to sit out; he wasn't on the bench because he didn't bring a sports coat (NBA rules say you can't be on the bench unless you're wearing some kind of sports coat). Now, maybe I'm thinking too hard here, but have you ever see Steve Nash when he rests while his back is acting up? He lays on the ground and doesn't actually 'sit' on the bench. So, I guess what I'm saying is: could LeBron have no been on the bench because of his back injury and not because he 'forgot a sports coat'? If it's better for him to lay down, why have him on the bench? Could the injury be worse than we're being told? Am I overreacting?
Ugly, but good. With Kevin Martin's regular shot and Ira Newble's 3pt shot put, there were some shots that looked like crap but managed to go in (Newble's had a sweet line drive trajectory).
No chalupa controversy this time. Cavs fans didn't need an Anderson Varejao desperation 3 to win them that free Taco Bell goodness; the Cavs hit the 100 mark with 6:30 to go in the 4th. The offense looked pretty good, they shot 54% from the floor, 56% from 3 and 90% from the stripe. 50-50-90. Not too shabby.
4th game in 5 nights? So we've come a long way since the start of the season. A few months ago, the Cavaliers playing 4 games in a 5 nights (and winning) would cause a bit a of a stir. Not now. These 4 in 5 just get thrown in with the rest in the "Larry Hughes point guard / LeBron is trying / crunch time playoff push" win streak. I'm OK with this.