At least one team showed up this weekend. This two game win streak certainly eases the pain caused by scrambling quarterbacks....
LeBron was very active. He didn't dominate the ball, but he did a ton of things right. In 36 minutes, he scored 22 points, dished out 8 assists and grabbed 6 boards to go along with 6 steals and yet another block (giving him 11 for the road trip). James put pressure on the Clippers defense by going inside (driving and setting up in the post) as well as running the floor before the defense is set.
Zydrunas won the battle of the bald(ing), white centers. Both Z and Chris Kaman played extremely well. Z 11-18 from the floor and he led the Cavaliers in scoring with 25. Kaman showed off a variety of post moves on his way to 21 points. Neither player could really stop the other one (which isn't exactly surprising, these guys aren't known for their defense) but the difference was the that the Cavs actually looked Ilgauskas's way down the stretch. Z had 12 of his 25 in the final quarter.
Devin Brown is currently making Eric Snow a really expensive assistant coach. Brown gave the Cavaliers another solid effort off the bench, scoring 8 points and grabbing 3 boards. Brown defends, he rebounds, he runs the floor and he can shoot. He does the dirty work that Snow does (like guarding Corey Maggette in the post) while also having the ability to put the ball in the basket.
Larry Hughes returned. Larry played pretty well in his first game back; he scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting and even hit a 3. He was pretty active in his time on the floor, but he only got just 28 minutes (though I think this had more to do with the play of the bench, rather than Hughes). He took good shots for the most part (though there was one or two...) and he looked pretty solid at the defensive end (his knee didn't seem to hold him back any).
But now Sasha is hurt. Pavlovic only played 6 minutes (he looked tentative) and he left the game with back spasms. Obviously, this isn't good. However, if there's one position where the Cavs actually have depth, shooting guard is it.
Third time may be the charm for Coach Mike's offense. The offense was pretty solid in Los Angeles; the Cavs shot 50% (42-83) and they scored in the triple digits. Now, some of this was simply good shooting (both Z and Hughes had their jumpers falling) but the Cavs should get credit for taking good shots. The biggest difference this season (besides the 'passing and cutting') is the fact the Cavaliers are feeding the post on a regular basis (to the entire starting front court); I think that regular post play is helping them stay out of those prolonged scoring droughts that plagued them for much of last season.
Speaking of solid post play, Drew Gooden had a great night. By any measure, with his 18 points and 17 boards, Gooden had a great game. But his line is even more riduculous when you see that he put up those numbers in just 30 minutes (and he sat the entire fourth period). Gooden was extremely active on both ends and the Cavs rode his hot hand for much of the first half. I was kind of surprised the Brown kept Gooden on the bench, considering that he had really good chance for a 20-20 night, but the bench guys played so well, Drew stayed in his warm ups.
Teams are going at Daniel Gibson. He's getting too many dumb fouls (slaps and reaches) and teams are making him play defense (whether it's in the post or catching him off guard at certain points in the game). I'm sure this is something he'll work on and fix, but Sam Cassell (28 points) had his way with him. The Cavs need his shooting and he'll only be able to shoot if he can stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court.
Coach Mike stayed with his bench for the final period. LeBron and Z played the bulk of the fourth with Damon Jones, Ira Newble and Devin Brown (and it worked). Jones was taking care of the ball and hitting jumpers while Newble and Brown did the dirty work. I was a bit surprised that Gibson, Hughes and Gooden were all planted to the bench down the stretch, but with the strong play of the reserves (plus that game in Denver the next night), it worked out.
We can't really expect a 4-2 West coast trip... can we? A win in Denver gives the Cavs a winning record for the trip, which I certainly didn't think was possible (especially after the Dallas game- ugh). Even if they lose to go 3-3, they gave a good effort and played pretty well in the losses to Phoenix and Utah. As long as they don't completely lay an egg against the Nuggets, they should return to Cleveland feeling pretty good about themselves.