Some good, some bad. Here's the deal: I'm not sure I can really be that upset with a 3 point loss to the Mavericks, in Dallas. Not that bad of a showing (especially considering that they were on national TV). But... it wasn't like they played valiantly and just couldn't get over the top; they got beat on the glass (44-38 and gave up 12 offensive boards), they shot 50% from the foul line and they attempted 18 3s (making just five).
LeBron was both spectacular and mediocre. 38 points, 17-27 shooting, 5 assists and 3 boards in 40 minutes of play. Not a bad line (I could've used more rebounds) and not a bad game at all. But... just 4-8 from the foul line (including 2 in the last minute) isn't going to cut it. Plus, he missed two 3s at the end that would've tied it. Now, he can hit those shots but... but I remarked after the NOOCH game that while it was great that he hit those two long backbreaking 3s at the end, it wouldn't exactly be prudent to rely on those kind of shots. Live by ridonkulous 25 foot 3s, die by ridonkulous 25 foot 3s.
Could he get some help? The Cavaliers' starting front court had 43 points and LeBron had 39. Thanks for showing up boys! Z had an absolutely atrocious game; turnovers, offensive fouls, ticky-tack defensive fouls (a trip? boo), missed free throws and missed point blank shots. Was not a good game. As for Drew Gooden... well, the box score says he had a better game than Z, but you could've fooled me. I can honestly say I don't remember any play he was involved in. That's the starting front court: awful and forgettable.
Sasha started and played relatively well. Hughes was out sick with whatever flu Pavs and Damon had, so Sasha got the start. He finished with 7 points but was plagued by foul trouble in the second half (just around the time he was heating up too).
The refs weren't particularly kind to the Cavaliers... I'm not going to put this loss on the refs, the Cavs did enough to loose this game themselves. But it seemed that every questionable play went the Mavs way. Pavlovic got called on 2 dubious calls (which I would imagine go the other way in a year or so), Z could've gone to the line at least 2 more times, James got knocked around once or twice and Gibson should've gotten a chance for a four point play. Again, did the refs blow this game for the Cavaliers? No. But they could've made it a little easier with a call or two.
Part of Pavlovic's foul trouble goes to Mike Brown. With about 1:40 to go in the third, Brown takes out James and brings Sasha back in with four fouls. Now, don't get me wrong, I like the fact that Brown wants to give James a rest (this needs to happen more often). But Pavlovic had just picked up his fourth foul, he's the only other guy worth a damn at the offensive end, can you really risk him getting that fifth foul. Well, Pavs picked it up on a charge call that, if it took place in Cleveland, would've been a 3pt play.
Silver Lining: with Pavs getting his 5 foul in the 3rd, Brown was forced to play Shannon Brown. You read that right. Shannon. Brown. And the crazy thing is? Brown responded. Sure, it was just 7 minutes of PT, but Shannon scored 5 points (he hit a 3) and, for the first time all season, looked like he belonged out there. Hopefully we'll get to see more of this (not the subbing in a guy with four fouls in the 3rd quarter, the Shannon Brown Experience).
David Wesley should never play again. I've said all along that I don't disagree with the Wesley signing; it was a low risk/high reward type deal. If he had anything left in the tank, it'd be good and if not, well, it's a cheap 1-year deal. The problem I do have is the insistence of Coach Mike to feed Wesley minutes when it is obvious that he doesn't deserve them. The dude is done. Hopefully, with the emergence of Brown (and yes, I'm calling 5 points in 7 minutes an 'emergence'), Wesley shouldn't see the court unless there's a point difference of 20 or more.
Speaking of crappy guards who got too much playing time, ladies and gentlemen: Eric Snow. 21 minutes for Snow. Now, I'm usually OK with Snow logging around 20 minutes. But my problem is that Snow played crunch time. I know he's a veteran presence and all that crap, but the Cavs were already down. They were losing, they needed to score and Eric Snow was out there missing layups and dominating the ball. I don't get it. There's not a lot of time left and the Cavs need to make up a significant deficit, why isn't Gibson out there. He can shoot. He can defend. You're not protecting a lead, you're trying to crawl back. Plus, the Mavs went zone and were throwing 589 guys at LeBron every time he touched the ball; it would've been nice to have a top five 3 point shooter out there.
New offensive wrinkle: the high post. The Cavs have gone to the high post here and there this season, but this was the first time I saw them use it for an extended time. They had Z and Gooden receive the ball in the first half and moved LeBron around off of screens and curls. This seemed to go against the Cavaliers' previous offensive philosophy of stand and shoot (BTW- in the pregame interview on TNT, LeBron mentioned how when they play defense, it allows them to take bad shots. Does he actually want to take bad shots? Is he mad when Coach Mike asks him to take good shots? I'm really confused).
I did not miss Larry Hughes at all. Just sayin'
LeBron not clutch? Marv Albert said something to the effect of LeBron " scored 13 points in the fourth quarter but couldn't hit the shots when it counted. He missed two free throws and two 3s that could've tied it and he'll be hearing it" Now, I'm not against all the LeBron calling out that's been going on. He hasn't had the same effort or same energy he's had last season (now, I say he's tired and still young) but to criticize him after this game seems a bit nuts to me. Could he have done more? Sure (he could've hit those shots at the end). But the guy played a hell of a game; there are some games where he has nice numbers, but if you watch the game, you could tell he wasn't all there. Not this time; Angry LeBron was out there all night long.
Look at that schedule. Ugh. Toronto and Houston at home then @ Detroit and Milwaukee. Sweet. I'm already excited.